All we hear recently about Atlantic City is how bad things are, casinos are closing, people are losing their jobs, and the city has lost its luster. With all the bad news I’m not sure what to expect when I roll into town in a couple of weeks.
I have a business trip to Philly in early December and as I was researching the casino choices in Philly I wasn’t getting very excited about my options. It didn’t really hit me that AC was only a short <90 minute drive away until I looked at my Google map.
Once I saw the map it clicked, and sure enough my friends at Harrah’s Total Rewards were nice enough to have a comp room waiting for me. So now when I visit the City of Brotherly Love I’ll be heading to the coast immediately after my meetings.
I’m very curious to get a feel for the town, the people and the attitude I encounter in my short trip. I’m excited since I haven’t been there in over 20 years and even if this isn’t the heyday for AC I still have a feeling there are good times and good blackjack to be had.
I’ll file a report in about 2 weeks to let you know what the city has to offer.
I have a buddy who hates to hit 3+ card 15s & 16s in almost any situation. His theory is that he’d rather give the dealer a chance to bust rather than taking a card that has a better than 50% chance of busting him. I get the psychological aspect of it, but I continue to tell him that in the long run he’s losing money.
I’m not a high-level math blackjack player, my system runs by the book with a few adjustments that increase my advantage over time, so I’m not going into great detail on the odds. I do know that if you flaunt some of the basic rules too often you are digging yourself a hole that you will never get out of.
At the moment you stay with a 3+ card 15 against a 10 it feels fairly good, you ‘give yourself a chance’ by staying in the hand. Sometimes it even works out – dealer busts every once in a while and you win a hand. The trouble with that one win is that you’ve now done a couple of things 1) made yourself feel good about a play that works less than it doesn’t and 2) set the shoe off course for future cards.
I’m not compulsive about the integrity of a shoe as I know some are, but I do think that when people play consistently poorly the cards tend to run colder. I’ll definitely walk away from a table if I see someone who is not willing to take a card and try to make a hand on a regular basis.
My guidance is that even if you win a couple of times playing it ‘safe’ the odds and the gambling gods will make sure that it will more than even out in the long run. So unless you have counted cards or you need to shake things up in a very cold run, take your medicine, hit that hand (caveat this is for 3+ cards and I love surrender rules) and look for your opportunities on future hands.
This is the first $5000 chip I won in one session on a $100 blackjack table at Paris during my last trip to Vegas. Really there isn’t much explanation needed as to why this is my motivation, but it’s fun to talk about winning real money!
In my blackjack evolution I’ve taken steps moving up in table limits from $10 to $100 and now moving up in my one-session winnings from the $100s to $5000. The key to this picture is that it means I was smart enough to walk away once I hit my goal.
I’ve struggled, as most players do, with having the discipline to walk away from a winning streak before things start to go downhill. In this case the pit boss was my partner in the process. As I was playing, my stack oscillated up and down for a time until I hit a hot streak and started to build my nest egg. Once I was firmly in the black I mentioned to the dealer and boss that I was on a quest for my first chocolate chip.
As the night wore on I continued to stack black chips and play my consistent strategy. After a split/double hand I went to place my next bet in the progression and the boss asked if I had counted my chips. I was a bit confused then realized with that last big hand I hit $5K plus a little change. I chipped up, tipped the change, and walked my one big chip to the cashier.
It was surreal and the feeling that keeps me working hard on my Momentum Blackjack(tm) strategy and coming back to the casino as often as possible. My next level is the $10,000 chip which seems nearly impossible, but that was the same feeling I had after I won my first $1000 chip at a $25 table and a $5000 chip seemed out of reach. I look forward to the post when I get to share a photo of my $10K chip with you.
Not every casual blackjack player loses every time, but as we know the casinos are making a lot of money on the fact that the casual player is getting crushed on a regular basis. So why do the guys weekend dudes and the bachelorette party crew always seem to come up on the short end of the deal? Here is a quick rundown of simple things that can help on your next casino weekend without the need for a card-counting class.
- Play at a reasonable limit table – if you can only lose $100 play at a $5 or $10 table
- Avoid 6:5 blackjack tables if you can – they are harder to escape these days
- Drink a little less – have fun, but get sloppy at the club or pool instead
- Find a good dealer – it will be more fun and they’ll help you along the way
- Play by the book – it doesn’t account for all nuances, but you will avoid big errors
- Smart bet changes – increase a bit when you win a few, don’t randomly double your bet
- Walk away – hardest rule to follow, but time is always on the side of the casino
- No casino ATMs – bring with you only what you are willing to lose
- Have fun – if you aren’t having fun, take a walk, clear your mind and try again later
None of these are guaranteed to make you a profitable blackjack player, but if you have all of these elements in your next blackjack experience there is a much better chance you will have fun, keep your losses to a minimum and possibly even walk away a winner.
By successful Vegas blackjack trip I mean that I came back a winner. If you are the person who read my previous posts you know I don’t care about much else when it comes to blackjack in Vegas – or anywhere else. No fancy restaurants, no strip joints, no big name DJs at clubs, none of the Vegas trappings, just get me a seat alone at a good blackjack table and I’m good to go.
So here is what I saw in bullet point format:
- When people enter your table mid-shoe it is a disaster
- Playing with other people is purely for fun, rarely do you win as a group
- If your dealer doesn’t smile or talk, walk away quickly
- When a guy buys in with a $20 at a $15 table, you don’t want to play with him
- Surrender is the best invention in the history of blackjack
- The cards seem to run as expected at $100 tables better than at low limit tables
- Sticking with your system is mandatory no matter the situation
- A good playing environment is more important than a fancy casino brand name
- The Planet Hollywood, Paris, Bally’s corridor is about all I need in Vegas
- If you have a great run, don’t give it all back, but keep some money in rotation to appease the blackjack gods
- If you don’t win splits and doubles there is little chance you come home a winner
- Set a limit for your losses and your wins – and stick to it
- Blatant self-promo: my Momentum Blackjack(tm) system works
I just got back from a super-quick and successful 24-hour Vegas blackjack bender. The basic summary is that I cut my trip short due to above expected win on day 1, so no need to press the issue on day 2. I’m excited about the results and how my Momentum Blackjack(tm) system is working.
Below is a timeline recap, several post topics to follow.
- 8am ET – leave home for airport
- 11am PT – arrive Planet Hollywood Vegas
- noon – first hand
- 4p – up a couple yards*
- 7p – dinner break breaking even
- 8p – first Bud Light
- 9p – head to $100 minimum tables at Paris
- 11p – leave high-limit room up over 40 yards
- midnight – bed
- 4am – wake up and head to Ballys
- 5am – call Delta and change to earlier flight home
- 8am – call it a day, down 5 yards, but very happy with the trip
- 9:40am – donate $20 to usual slot machine at airport
- 5p ET – arrive home
*Leave me a comment if you’d like to know what a yard is.