Holy Macau – $270 minimum bets crush $20 Vegas average

The good folks at CNN Money had a very interesting article about the minimum bet sizes in Macau.  According to their report the average MINIMUM bet at a Macau casino is $270!  And I thought my $100 minimum table play was putting me into strong territory.  In comparison Vegas gamblers are low rollers at only a $20 average minimum bet.

I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that I’m well above average in Vegas, but it is a little humbling being at 10% of our Macau cohorts. I’m a blackjack player, which only accounts for 1% of Macau action, so I don’t know much about baccarat, their primary game of choice.  Maybe money goes further at baccarat, but I know that if I started at $270 minimum bet at blackjack I could easily lose thousands of dollars in under an hour of play.

I agree with the article premise that blowing through money quickly hurts the gaming industry in the long run.  Giving more people the chance to play longer with reasonable limits feels like a better business model to sustain over time.  In the case of Macau you are relying on high rollers who can afford to lose plenty of money every time they play and likely limiting your pool of available clients.

Of course the lower limit option plays much more favorably into my blackjack strategy so I’m biased.  The longer I can stretch out a neutral run the better chance I’ll make a positive run and capitalize with a winning session.

I guess my personal takeaway is to stay closer to home and play blackjack in Vegas.  The final word in the CNN Money article is that Macau upside still exists so more power to the casinos and their big money customers!

Making a Plan for My Blackjack Future

I thought I might lose my job last week.  Our company was going through large-scale layoffs and at my level no one was safe.  When it was revealed that I didn’t get the axe a strange thing happened; I was disappointed.  A big reason I was ready to leave is my blackjack ambition.

I’ve been laid off before and I don’t wish it on anyone.  Many of my friends were let go in this round and I hate that they have to go through the stress that this will bring.  That being said, I truly believe I was ready to change from a corporate drone to a blackjack player – at least on a part-time basis.

My biggest hurdle to making the transition was going to be the family.  Since I’m nowhere near Las Vegas it would take either moving or commuting on a regular basis – neither of which is appealing.  The wife isn’t going to Vegas and commuting would make the economics much harder.

The potential solution I found is very appealing and there is a good chance it will be my direction in the relatively near future.  As much as I’d like to think I could replace my 6-figure salary with a full-time blackjack gig it’s probably wiser to give myself more opportunities for success.

The new plan for my next phase will be a combination of self-employment.  The goal is to start my own business in my current expertise on a project basis geared at 3-6 month engagements which gives me multiple windows for blackjack between projects.  Timing is still uncertain since I can’t walk away from my current salary and benefits just yet.

Until the plan goes in motion I’ll continue to play as much as possible, fine tune my system and keep my reader(s) up to date on my efforts.  And if you happen to run a television production company I’m ready to start playing blackjack full-time for your next reality series pilot.

Will 5th Vegas Visit in 2014 be a Charm?

exterior1

I have a 4+ hour flight to Vegas so for me getting there is definitely not half the fun.  That being said, I just booked my 5th Vegas trip of 2014 and I couldn’t be more excited.  In my previous 4 trips I’m basically break-even with a couple of caveats.

The 2 trips where I was solo and had an opportunity to play my system on my own schedule I won several thousand dollars.  The 2 visits where I was with other people and played between meetings or sat at games out of convenience or camaraderie I was down several thousand.

This 5th trip is a solo event, no distractions, plenty of time to play blackjack my way, on my own terms.  That is a great thing, but it also adds pressure.  It will be my last opportunity in my quest to become a better blackjack player to make this a winning year.  And I have no excuse not to win.

The funny thing about this trip is that it is a mini-celebration of keeping my job.  Our company had massive layoffs and I was lucky to avoid the axe.  So as a gift to myself I’m taking this trip and staying at a comp room at my favorite place Planet Hollywood Las Vegas.  And in case you are wondering my consolation gift to myself if I did get the axe was the same trip.

I’ll keep the blog up to date on my prep for the trip and then will try to live blog or maybe live tweet my 48 hours of blackjack next month so everyone can follow my results.

Personal Blackjack Shoe is a Great Practice Tool

IMG_1572

You might think that with all the free blackjack apps out there an actual blackjack shoe would be a waste of money.  Why go through the trouble of getting chips, shuffling cards, dealing and tracking cards when your phone or iPad can do everything for you?  I understand that argument, and most of the time I play on an app, but every once in a while it is nice to practice with real cards in a real shoe to get a better feel for live casino conditions.

Walmart sells a blackjack shoe with 6 decks and a discard tray for about 19.99.  I bought this about three months ago and I gotta say it’s been a great investment in my blackjack training program.

Tonight I’m walking into the game with ‘$300’ and below are my results for one shoe.

  • Playing $25 table, surrender, about 75% penetration
  • 1st hand 11 vs. 4 showing – double down = 15 vs. dealer 4,3,Q = 17 – lose $50 – ouch
  • First surrender about 8 hands in 16 vs. 10
  • Won double down A,3 vs. 6 showing to get back to even
  • Now up $100 with $50 bet on the table
  • Run ends at $75 bet, now up $150
  • First split 2,2 vs. 6 – won both 13, 20 vs. bust – up $200
  • Back to back splits – 3,3 vs. 7 – lost both 17, 15 vs. 18
  • Made Momentum Blackjack(tm) play – against the book – started 5 hand winning streak
  • First blackjack on $40 bet – now up $250
  • 7 card winner – 2,2,3,4,A,3,2 vs. 9,7,10
  • Shoe ending split 8s – lost both, shoe needs to end
  • Shoe ends poorly – final tally is a win of $150 or a 50% ROI on the $300 investment

Overall my play was solid.  Made a couple of moves against the book using my own Momentum Blackjack(tm) system which paid off.  If I was playing perfectly I would have walked away earlier than the end of the shoe when the momentum turned, but that is one of the hardest plays to make.

I’ll take a $150 win every time on a $300 investment.

Why the Gambling Stigma?

I’m a gambler.  I can say this here clearly with pride for a couple of reasons, first my reading audience is in the low single-digits and second I don’t use my name on this blog.  When I’m at work or with family I feel the need to minimize my affection for gambling.  I have a few close friends who know my ‘secret’ and they view me with a combined sense of interest and disdain.

Why do I feel the need to hide my hobby?  My friends spend thousands of dollars on their biking or skiing or video games or whatever it is that gets them through the hours not spent at work or with their families.  I spend relatively little on my extracurricular activity and, oh by the way, I have a fairly solid chance of actually earning money while enjoying hours of entertainment.

The folks at the American Gaming Association know that this is an issue and they have started a campaign called Get to Know Gaming.  The basic idea is that they want regulators, politicians, and local governments to think of gamblers as regular upstanding citizens.  The interesting thing to me about this AGA campaign is that for the most part the people I meet in major casinos are very respectable people.

The challenge is that when debates on gaming come up in politics the anti-gaming crowd tends to use the ‘other’ side of gaming as their example.  The examples that are rolled out are bars with video poker, backroom gas station machines and ‘lottery cafes’ where mainly low-income people with little opportunity are preyed upon with the lure of fast cash.  These examples to me are not gaming, they are oppression mechanisms for the lower rungs of society.

Maybe I’m being too cut and dry with my characterizations of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ gambler, but in my opinion when done in a thoughtful and fun manner that doesn’t put your livelihood at risk gambling is a more than acceptable hobby.  I’m proud to be a blackjack player and gambler.  Hopefully I’ll be part of a new movement that helps to make it more socially acceptable in the near future.