Continuous Shuffle Machine: You Are on the List

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I’ve got a running list of things that drive me crazy or are just plain wrong at blackjack tables.  Some examples include rude players, 6:5 payouts, and boring dealers – this trip to Vegas I added the continuous shuffle machine.  

I understand why casinos use it – saves time, makes the dealer’s life easier and ultimately makes the casino more money by dealing more hands per hour.  I actually don’t mind that smaller casinos or even the bigger places use them at lower limit tables.

What I don’t like is when higher end places use them and use them liberally at tables with $15 – 25 limits.  My case in point is Aria Las Vegas.  On my most recent Vegas trip I was lucky enough to stay at the Aria Sky Suites and was looking forward to playing some blackjack at their casino.  I was disappointed to learn that there were no tables at or below $25 without a continuous shuffle machine.

If you don’t know what I mean by a continuous shuffle machine look for the big black wheel device which looks like a handheld vaccuum attached to what would be a normal shoe of cards.  The vaccuum is an accurate analogy since it will be sucking up your chips in a hurry.  

My top preference is a 6 deck shoe with a manual dealer shuffle, my secondary preference is the auto-shuffle machine which shuffles one 6-deck shoe while you are playing the other shoe.

My main gripe with the continuous shuffle machine is that you aren’t able to count on the normal ebb and flow of cards and get a feel for where you stand.  Getting on a run is almost impossible and you never know if a shoe starts or ends so you are left holding the bag at nearly every turn.  This tilts the advantage even further into the house and makes walking away a winner nearly impossible.

My advice to you as a player is to walk away when you see the continuous shuffle machine and my advice to Aria is to get rid of at least some of these machines and make your blackjack tables more attractive to your guests.

My First Momentum Blackjack Client

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On my recent trip to Vegas I brought along my first client who had worked with me learning the Momentum Blackjack(tm) system.  I’ll give more details below, but the basic story is that  he came back a winner and has turned into a huge blackjack fan.  The best quote was ‘This game is so much more fun when you give yourself a chance to win!’

Full disclosure my first client is also a good friend so I’m still looking for my first paying client, but you gotta start somewhere.  Our training started about a month prior to the trip.  My friend, we’ll call him JB, hadn’t played blackjack in years and when he had played felt, like most recreational players, that he knew the basics but wasn’t confident enough to sit at a table and feel in control of his own destiny,

JB is about the perfect client.  He was committed to playing better, he studied on his own, and he asked great questions.  He spent time learning the basic strategy and I gave him the overview of how to adjust the basics and leverage betting increments to improve his odds.  His practice sessions included using my favorite app 21 Sim and we traded ideas on how to make the most of our 48 hours in Vegas.

Once we hit Vegas we lost a little bit of the strategic plan of attack.  He hadn’t been to Vegas in years and we started drinking too early in the morning before the flight.  We headed out to the strip and went looking for a low limit table which isn’t the best approach, but it made him feel better to start low.

We spent the better part of the next 12 hours playing and drinking – unfortunately the drinking went better than the cards and we ended day 1 down slightly.  JB wanted to start day 2 by checking out as many casinos as possible so we did the walk and play trip from New York, New York moving north up the strip to Bally’s.  This was early in the morning so we hadn’t started drinking and the games went much better.

The morning session was fun and we started the crawl back to even for the trip, but the night session was when it all came together.  JB and I headed to my favorite haunt Planet Hollywood, which is also now his favorite.  We found an empty $25 table at the Pleasure Pit and went to work.

Our dealer Kai was a lot of fun, the cards were going our way and we played strategically.  The first two shoes went well, not spectacular, but on the positive side of the ledger.  On the third show we were joined my two guys who were about same age as us and when our new friend on 3rd base surrendered on the 2nd hand I knew we had a chance.

The next couple of hours were one of those Vegas situations that you hope for, but rarely occur, the entire table of four walked away ahead.  I was the lowest winner, but JB and another of our new friends hit it big both leaving with over triple their buy-in through smart blackjack strategy.  After taking a nice piece of the bank the table decided to leave as a group and we all walked away to count our winnings.

JB left that table with a new appreciation for the game and Vegas as a whole.  And I left the table with a new convert to Momentum Blackjack(tm).

Vegas Trip Recap – Best of Times, Worst of Times

I’ve got so much new material from my 48 hours in Las Vegas last week that I’m still organizing what will make it into future posts in the coming days and weeks.  The executive summary is that Vegas is still the greatest place on earth for a guys trip.  The sub-headline is that guys trips split your gambling into two categories – drunken fun and strategic.

Unfortunately for my bankroll, this time around the drunken fun sucked more money out than my strategic play could make up in the end.

My companions on this trip included two buddies – one of whom was my first Momentum Blackjack client and the other was an amateur gambler who wanted to drink more than he cared about winning or losing.  The client is a good friend who has been overwhelmed by gambling in the past and wanted to learn more about blackjack so he could better enjoy his trip.

I’ll get into some of the details of the action in multiple future posts, but here is a sneak peek of some topics to expect: Gambling drunk, first client success story, avoiding bad tables, 6:5 sucks (still), walking the strip, when to walk away, what makes a great dealer, players to avoid, etc.

I hope you join me in review that will hopefully make us all better blackjack players going forward.

Last Minute Practice Before Vegas Trip

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I’m geeked up for my trip to Vegas this Wednesday! To get ready I had my buddy over to test out my new 6-deck blackjack shoe. He is a fairly novice player so we talked strategy and played a couple of shoes with the kids. He is at the stage where he still is working to remember basic strategy which is probably where the majority of casual players are and will always be.

The things I noticed when playing with him were that he was working so hard to remember what he should do on every hand that he missed a few opportunities to help his overall results.

The first area for improvement, which I see all the time with novice players, is that he was so concerned with making the right moves he often forgot to increase his bets when he got rolling. He left a decent amount of money on the table by staying at the minimum bet amount too long which meant that when the tide turned against him he quickly gave back his winnings.

The second issue was his lack of nerve – this is related to the first issue, but was a more conscious decision. He wouldn’t stick to his double, split, bet-increase strategy due to a concern for losing. This is the oldest gambling saying in the book ‘you gotta bet big to win big’. I don’t advocate wildly betting large amounts, but if you aren’t willing to play your game no matter what the bet amount you are likely not going to come out ahead because even if you lose a couple of times overall if you trust your system and decision making in the end it will come out in your favor no matter what the amount of your bet.

Overall I felt pretty good about my play and plan of attack leading into the trip this week. Now I need to stick to my plan, not get sucked in by free drinks and friends wanting to play at tables that have the hottest dealer.

Wish me luck!

T-Minus 2 Weeks Until Vegas

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If, like me you’re a gambler stuck far from major casinos, Vegas is the vacation you look forward to with great anticipation.  Yes, 49% of the Nevada population is in debt collection and there seem to be more unemployed people in drunk Mickey costumes on the strip than at the blackjack tables these days, but with due respect to Macau, Vegas is still the place to be.

I’m headed to the strip in two weeks with a couple of buddies which has got me excited, but also a little hesitant.  Of course I’m excited because I’m staying in an Aria suite, get to play blackjack for two days straight and we’ll enjoy great food and drink.  I’m hesitant because I’ve never gambled with these guys before and I have a feeling it will lead to more BUI than good solid money-making blackjack sessions.

There is also some added pressure since these guys know I have a system and play to make money.  They will be watching all my play and constantly checking on my progress.  I’m okay with the extra scrutiny, but with them playing at my table there is a good chance they will impact my game with their play and I won’t be able to say anything since these are my friends.

I’ll keep posting updates on my way to the trip as well as during and after to give a summary of how this new experiment in my blackjack journey unfolds.

 

Sands Vegas Makes $4K/Table/Day – That’s It?

More great stats on gaming in Vegas and Macau – this time from Motley Fool.  The one stat that stuck out most in my mind was that Las Vegas Sands (Bellagio, Venetian, etc) makes $3,966 per table per day.

This doesn’t seem like a lot of money.  I know I’ve lost almost that much in Vegas in a day before, so I’m doing my share of the work.  For comparison in Macau they make $37,641 per table per day – almost 10X more than Vegas!

Sands makes twice as much from everything other than gambling in Vegas, WTF?  This is what drives me crazy about the modern Vegas.  This city was built on people who have dreams of hitting it big on the tables and now the city is hitting it big on Red Bull Vodkas.  Visitors have given up trying to hit the jackpot, unless they are DJs who apparently are the new version of the jackpot winners based on the billboards I’ve seen.

Anyway, next time you are in Vegas play a couple extra hands at the tables so that in future visits there are still tables left for us all to play!!