4th Annual Blackjack Year In Review (2017)

I feel like the sales guy in your company who didn’t hit their quota, but has to do an annual review and try to spin all the positives of their year that obscure the fact that they didn’t do the one thing that they are paid to do – produce revenue.  To get the big question out of the way first, no it was not a winning year on the blackjack tables.  This is my 3rd losing year in a row – ouch.  I’ve made some peace with the fact that my use of a progressive betting system will produce winning sessions and even streaks, but likely won’t make me a consistent winner in the long-run.  That being said, I still have some work to do on my play that would keep me closer to even or ahead simply by being more disciplined in my play and game management.  Anyway, let’s look at the year in numbers:

  • 17 casino visits – new record
    • 4 trips to Vegas
    • 1 new state – Maryland, 11th state in which I’ve visited a casino
    • 22 straight months with a casino visit and counting
  • Largest loss in one trip -52 yards – brutal Jan trip to start year in huge hole
  • Largest win in one trip +20 yards – summer Vegas trip got me back to nearly even
  • Largest loss on one hand – 8 yards
  • Largest win on one hand + 7.5 yards (1.5 split/double X5)
  • Largest single bet on one hand – 7.5 yards – push
  • Total loss for the year – 56 yards

Some of the other highlights from the year included:

  • National Blackjack Day on 3:2 gained momentum, including a mention on the billboard in front of The D Las Vegas
  • I had some positive impact on The Cromwell and their gaming strategy based on conversations with their host
  • I won a NLH poker tourney over 50 people at Planet Hollywood with an $80 buy-in that paid $1200
  • I kept my Diamond status with Total Rewards which is great mainly for the fact that it avoids the damn resort fees on comp rooms

It was another fun and productive, if not profitable, year for my gambling hobby.  I’m looking forward to much more in 2018 with 3 planned Q1 Vegas trips and promising plans for #BlackjackDay 2018 it should be another great year.  Look forward to playing more, have new experiences, and meeting more great people as part of this adventure.

That Time I Played Arm Chair Casino Marketing Consultant for The Cromwell

My current ‘dream job’ would be working as a casino marketing consultant.  Living the @_Lucky45 life traveling from casino to casino providing insights and recommendations on how they could improve their operations.  I’m not sure it truly is a dream job, but from the outside looking in, it seems like a fun gig.

After a Vegas trip this spring I met a friendly host at The Cromwell and had a great conversation about their gaming strategy.  She encouraged me to provide some feedback so I sent the attached email with my POV.

The premise of the note was summed up here:

Gaming options on the Strip have become mass market and game rules continue sliding to the favor of the house while regional casinos are raking in major hold revenue from higher limit gamers.  This shift creates a gap that an intimate, upscale, player-friendly casino on the Strip would have the ability to exploit.

It was fun to see that this summer The Cromwell implemented some similar concepts to those that I had recommended.  Now, I’m not taking credit for these changes. the host told me that they were considering some changes already, however it was good to see that my ideas had merit.

Maybe I have potential in a casino marketing role – only time and a little luck will tell.

Full-copy of the attached email exchange with the host from the PDF is below…any feedback is appreciated.

 From:   XXXX XXXX <XXXX@lasvegas.harrahs.com>
 To:  XXXX@XXXX.com
 Date:  Sunday, April 30, 2017 10:59 pm
 Subject:  RE: Feedback on The Cromwell
Good evening,

It was a pleasure meeting you as well! Thank you so much for the very thoughtful email, it’s clear that you are passionate about marketing and care about the success of The Cromwell. I went ahead and forwarded your email over so that the right person can hear your feedback and get in touch with you.  Hopefully, you can stay with us during your next trip and see some of our changes implemented and more clearly why Cromwell is truly such a unique and luxurious property unlike anything else on the Las Vegas Strip.

Again, thank you so much for the feedback and I look forwarded to seeing you here on property in the future. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any other questions regarding Cromwell.

Kindest Regards,

XXXX XXXX  |  Vip Hospitality Host

3595 Las Vegas Blvd S. | Las Vegas, NV 89109
| Download our app Play by TR

From: XXX@XXXX.com [mailto:XXX@XXXX.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2017 7:12 PM
Subject: Feedback on The Cromwell


It was a pleasure to meet you last week and I appreciate you indulging my questions and comments about the gaming potential at The Cromwell.  I started to write a short follow-up email and my marketing consulting side kicked in so apologies in advance for the long email.  I truly believe that The Cromwell is uniquely positioned to double or triple gaming revenue with a concentrated effort.

My expertise is in strategic digital and brand marketing as I’ve lead both for The XXX Channel, XXX, XXX and now I’m leading marketing for a digital media start-up.  Combine that background with a passion for live casino gaming and particularly blackjack, and the Cromwell gaming business has captured my interest.  I make 5-6 trips to Vegas each year, with about the same number of trips to regional casinos and typically play $50-100 limit blackjack.

As I mentioned, I stopped by to chat since you didn’t have any tables open in the high-limit room when I passed through on 3 different occasions mid-week last week and I enjoyed playing in your HLR on previous trips.  I ended up in the Bally’s HLR for most of the week.  This email is based on your suggestion to provide some tangible feedback to share with casino leadership.

Unique Insight:

Gaming options on the Strip have become mass market and game rules continue sliding to the favor of the house while regional casinos are raking in major hold revenue from higher limit gamers.  This shift creates a gap that an intimate, upscale, player-friendly casino on the Strip would have the ability to exploit.


Players First – not a tagline, a mindset.  I was in Cherokee NC last week and they had 20+ $50-100 limit blackjack tables, 6+ craps tables all above $15 and nearly every spot was full.  This obviously isn’t a direct relation to Vegas, but these players will almost all head to Vegas at some point each year and when they arrive they would appreciate a casino to welcome them like the high-level player they are.

The Brand:

Currently, The Cromwell has what I’d call in consulting terms Brand Dissonance, but in everyday terms the carpet doesn’t match the drapes.  I can stay for free at any Vegas Total Rewards property except The Cromwell and you send me surveys asking what name makes me think of an ultra-lux destination, which makes me believe that The Cromwell is the top of the line Vegas property for Caesars competing with the Cosmo and Aria.  When I arrive and the first thing I see are signs for $5 tables always open and $2 drinks with no high-limit room tables open that makes me think the target market is the drunk dude stumbling between Ballys and Flamingo.  The only way to build a brand is to embrace it at all levels.  I was at the Wynn this trip and a guy came up to the bar at 3pm Tuesday and asked what the specials were – bartender says ‘Sir this is the Wynn, every drink is special.’    A bit douchy, but point made and the guy bought a $12 drink.

Target Customer:

So who is a ‘Player’?  Someone who appreciates great customer service, quality gaming odds and options, loves great food from a high-profile chef and enjoys a world-class day/night club experience.  They don’t all have to be the same person, but they can appreciate people who like each of them.  In terms of gaming, the experience is key.  At Bally’s, Paris and PH I know several of the dealers and pit bosses in each high-limit room and the experience is friendly and fine.  If I venture to other properties I’m lucky to get a ‘good luck’ when the pit boss flings my players card back to me.  I’d be very impressed if I could play somewhere that went an extra step to show me they respect me and my business.


How would we measure success and know that these observations are more than just long-winded musing and if changes were implemented that they are successful?  Since The Cromwell is intimate it won’t compete on gross revenue hold numbers, but there are a few metrics that would show progress including revenue per player, revenue per table, repeat visitors, players who stay at other properties, and other indicators that super-serving players is indeed growing the bottom line.

Tactical Implications:

So what does all this mean?  Honestly, all of this may not match the data and I’m heavily data-driven so would be fun to dig into the numbers to validate.  Anyway, here are a few top-level options that could bring the strategy to life:

–          -Service: Address all players by last name/sir/ma’am, welcome all players at the door and direct them to their destination, personal welcome from casino host to all players staying at hotel (I did receive this last year during my stay), personal email to players staying at hotel prior to their stay, hand-written thank you to each high-limit player after their visit, etc

–          -Gaming: Favorable odds (all blackjack 3:2, strong odds on craps, etc), no tables with limit below $15 on BJ or $10 on craps ever, high-limit room open every day at least after noon (ideally 24/7)

–          -Messaging: No significant mass-marketing efforts, mainly targeted personal messaging to players via email, text, etc, No marketing of the odds or amenities, focus on the vibe and atmosphere that players will expect.  Not looking for the drunks stumbling the strip, or locals trying to get good odds, looking to super-serve players.

–          -Extras: The Abbey as invite only/membership space (this may not be possible, but would be amazing), would like to see a ‘speakeasy’ in the casino which has secret entrance for players who know, maybe a ‘player of the day’ voted by staff, custom ‘Cromwell’ card for select players that gives small extra benefits.

I’ll stop now since I’ve clearly gone way beyond my depth.  I appreciate you humoring me as I dabble in casino marketing consulting for one email.  If any of this is of any interest I’d be happy to have additional conversations and I look forward to playing in The Cromwell in the near future.

Thank you,