My Wallet’s Gone! My Wallet’s…Oh Wait

As a huge Seinfeld fan, Morty yelling like a madman when he thinks his wallet was stolen at the doctor’s office always makes me laugh.  Of course when I actually thought I lost money – and not from the dealer pulling 5’s for his 16’s all night – at the casino and had a similar reaction it wasn’t nearly as funny.

I had been celebrating National Blackjack Day at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River casino on March 2 (3:2) and having a good day.  I played at the $50 high-limit room by myself and doubled my money then gave back a bit before deciding to cash out and head back home.  I chipped up and headed to the cage to cash out with a slight detour to watch the free slots tournament.

Sidebar, those slot tourneys are fun people watching.  Bunch of old folks smashing machines in search of a bunch of free rewards points.  Anyway back to the story.

After a few minutes of people watching I reached into my pocket to cash my chips and noticed there wasn’t any cash.  Usually when I gamble I keep my cash in a front pocket so a) I don’t have to sit on my wallet and b) it’s easier to access.  Anyway nothing was there, nothing in my back pockets and just my normal few bucks in my wallet.  Oh crap.  Did I drop it when I pulled out my phone?  Did I leave it at the table?

I trace my steps, ask my dealer, do another lap, check all my pockets and wallet again and still nothing.  I walked back to the table and asked the pit boss if he’d help me out.  He wasn’t warm and fuzzy to start with and this wasn’t his idea of fun even though there was literally no one else in high limit.  So head of security comes down, I repeat my story, he calls the eye in the sky and they start to rewind tape.

I keep talking to the dealer, look under the tables, do another lap, then do the check of all locations again and then…D’OH…I had folded my extra bills and slid them on the inside pocket of my wallet.  I don’t recall doing it, not just today, but ever doing it before in my life.

Now I’m embarrassed as hell.  Immediately tell the security guy, who was GREAT by the way, both in trying to help and making me feel better about being a pain.  Tell the dealer and pit boss who rolls his eyes, apologize to everyone for being a moron, drop a $20 on their table, cash my chips at the cage, and get in my car as fast as possible.

So my National Blackjack Day was mildly profitable and pretty damn embarrassing.

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National Blackjack Day Interview with High Roller Radio

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts it has been a pleasure getting to know many of the people out there who have similar interests as I do in the gaming industry.  Recently I was lucky enough to be interviewed on High Roller Radio about National Blackjack Day.

We had a fun conversation about 3:2 blackjack, #NationalBlackjackDay and the ways casino companies can improve their experience for everyone, including millennials.  If you have a moment take a listen and let me know what you think!

Also, while you are there check out some of the other fun interviews and content from some great experts and characters in the gambling world.

Blackjack Day Goes International

Today I had a great conversation with High Roller Radio about 3:2 National Blackjack Day as well as some general gaming industry trends.  He is a strong industry advocate with a passion for Poker and all things gaming.  Since he is based in Canada I’m chalking this up to an international expansion of #NationalBlackjackDay.

If you’d like to hear our conversation you can listen here and if you’d like to hear more interesting people than me interviewed about gaming you can visit High Roller Radio to find all of this great content.

As always I’m impressed with the people who have personal interest and passion for the gaming industry and it was a pleasure to take part in this interview.

My Idea to Bring Millennials to Casino Gaming (Not VR, eSports or Video Games)

Holy hell, if I never read another article about millennials and gambling it would be great by me.  And yet here I am writing one.

So let’s get to it, how can I, an unknown blogger who doesn’t work in the industry add any value to this conversation?  I’m a digital and brand marketing strategy guy by trade and so I look at this as a strategic marketing question rather than a gaming issue.

What do millennials want?  I don’t really know.  I’m GenX, my kids aren’t old enough to be millennials, but I do know how I would create an experience that may make the gaming experience more attractive to those who will be the next generation of players.

Experience.  That is the key word.  When between 3 to 8 millennial friends get together and say let’s go to Vegas (or another gaming destination) all of them can have an experience at the pool, or the club, or a show, or shooting guns, or driving exotic cars or picking up girls/guys, etc with ease.  But how many of them can have an experience at a craps table or blackjack or roulette without any friction?  One, maybe two?  Maybe it is the money, or not knowing the rules, or losing too quickly, or feeling insecure, or who knows why, but there are too many potential barriers which don’t exist with other activities.

So here goes.  Let’s make gaming an experience.  If you have 3+ people under 35 in your group staying at my casino you get to have an hour behind the tables – not the ‘free gaming sessions from 11-noon’ but a real experience.  You get your own private tables to deal blackjack to your friends, you get to rake the craps dice, you get to spin the ball in the roulette wheel.  Holy shit I want to spin the ball!!!  But wait, random blog guy, with no experience in the industry we can’t do that!  There are rules, and millennials want to play Frogger, and what about the social media, this will never work.

Whatever, you are smarter than me, figure it out.  Do this with Total Reward credits, oh snap, you just signed up a bunch of millennials to your rewards program!  Screw Frogger or whatever the hot game is, by the time you put it in your casino the kids will have moved on to the next game and you’ll have a bunch of lame old games on your floor.  And can you think of something more Insta-friendly than a pic of you spinning the roulette ball for your friends at your own private table in Vegas?

And after your super-friendly staff has made this experience amazing for their new friends, guess what, they will feel really confident in their ability to play these games with real money using the credits they just earned on their rewards cards.  And maybe they’ll tell their friends about it and when they come back to see their favorite DJ this summer.  They can tell their friends they once dealt blackjack and they will show them how to play after they hit the pool.

So there you go.  You’re welcome casino industry.  And when you are ready to run the test case I’ll be happy to be your marketing strategy consultant.

 

When the Family is Away This Gambler Will Play

My wife and kids had a couple of days off last weekend and headed out of town to visit some of her friends and their kids.  I had a few items on the honey-do list, but knew that I’d be able to work in at least one session at our semi-local casino.

As their plans took shape I realized I could get in two trips with a little creative planning.  I split the weekend into 2 parts with a quick day trip to Cherokee Valley River which is only 2 hours away and then a short overnight at Harrah’s Cherokee to play a little poker in addition to my usual blackjack.

Saturday Day Trip: I got up early, walked the dog and headed up to North Carolina for a short day-trip to play some blackjack at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.  If you recall from my previous posts this isn’t a great resort destination, but they do have a decent amount of tables and since I had some things to do over the weekend it fit into my plans.

I made the 2 hour drive and for some reason was surprised to find nearly every single seat at every blackjack table full.  This place is not for vacationers so crowded tabled made for good people watching.  I literally saw people running to get a seat when a new $15 table opened and at another table every seat was full while the dealer and pit boss opened new cards and went through the slow process of opening the table.  With that backdrop I actually played some video poker to kill time and broke-even which ain’t bad for a guy who has no clue about the right strategy for that game.

Finally, I was able to find a non-smoking $25 table with a couple of guys who seemed to know what they were doing and jumped in at first base.  The session was pretty decent with only a few bad plays from a guy who couldn’t seem to find the nerve to hit on 14, 15 or 16.  I was flat for the first few rounds and then had a couple of good shoes to get slightly ahead.  The last show before I had to get back in the car and head home was solid and as it came to an end I was on a nice roll when I got to the last hand which of course turned into a big bet, split and frustrating loss which cut into my total win, but being up a few yards overall made the drive home bearable.

President’s Day Overnight: With the holiday I was able to get my work done at the office in short order and head out in the early afternoon for a one-night trip to Harrah’s Cherokee which feels like the Wynn after visiting Valley River earlier in the weekend.  This was my first trip to a casino resort with my dog which was an interesting experience, apparently it is fairly common based on the number of people I passed on the dog trail and the fact that they have a very nice woman at the bell desk who calls herself the ‘Milk Bone Lady’.  The dog did great, which is completely inconsequential, but good to know I can do it again if necessary.

On to the gambling.  I arrived in time for their $80 Monday night NLH poker tournament which was relatively small with under 40 total entries (including re-buys) but well run.  I enjoyed the tournament, made some decent progress and then busted out with pocket 10s vs pocket Jacks in 8th place at the final table.  Not a bad result, I could have gotten away from the 10s but it was getting late and I wanted more action.

After the poker I headed downstairs to the blackjack tables to see what the action looked like.  As usual virtually every seat was taken from the $15 to the $50 tables.  I sat at the one open table on the entire floor which was a $100 6 deck.  I played one shoe solo and broke even, then two drunk guys joined me after asking if I knew how to play since apparently they ran into some of the morons I’ve also seen at the tables in the highest grossing Harrah’s property in the U.S.  These guys were pretty fun, knew how to play, and we went on a nice run which netted over 10 yards in 2 shoes.  After that a couple other people wanted to join so I wished them good luck, cashed my win and headed back to walk the dog before bed.

It was a fun and profitable weekend.  I got the honey-do list done around the house, made 2 trips to my ‘local’ casinos, and learned I could travel for gambling with my dog.  Overall I’d call it a win on all fronts.

 

CES and Blackjack Don’t Mix – When Will I Learn?

I’ve written at least 2 of these posts in the past 3 years.  Somehow I always start the year off with a big loss during CES.  I say somehow, but looking back at this last trip really I shouldn’t be too surprised.

As you probably know CES is the giant electronics trade show that happens the first week of every year.  I attend most years and as part of the week I find my way to the tables on a regular basis.  I don’t think I’ve ever come back from CES up on my gambling scorecard and this year was no different.

The week started off on a bad note when I played the $50 tables at Bally’s on Monday the 2nd, which for the record is the earliest I’ve started gambling in a new year.  This is usually one of my favorite places to play, but this session didn’t go well with a loss and a faux pas.  The loss was minor, but my misstep was embarrassing, guy comes in and I’m only one playing at 4 tables.  He talks to dealers and the pit boss, they all know him and as he is sitting down at other table he looks at me and says ‘should I come play with you?’  I say ‘no thanks I prefer to play alone.’  Everyone stops.  Well shit what did I do?  After a second I realized he was flirting with my dealer and wasn’t talking to me.  Crap.  I apologized, but he thought I was a douche and both of us ended up losing after that pretty quick.  I saw the guy later on the casino floor and apologized again, he was fairly cool about it, but I still feel like a dumbass – I know better – keep your mouth shut unless you have something good to say!

Day 2 and 3 had a lot of work related activities with only a quick $25 table session snuck in here and there which didn’t really move the needle either way.  Day 4 gave me a window to play in the afternoon and so I hit the $100 tables at Planet Hollywood which turned into a nice session with a comeback that got me back to even for the week.  Nothing eventful, but most of the splits and doubles went my way which makes for a winning combination.

Day 5 was depressing since I met a buddy and he wanted to play at $10 or $15 table, which on the strip at night during CES is nearly impossible so we ended up playing $15, 6:5, auto-shuffle machine at Bellagio – this was my personal version of hell.  The dealer and I were talking and he knew it was a joke so he started yelling 6:5!!’ every time someone got blackjack just to rub it in.  After that I went to play high-limit again at PH which was a mistake, I had been drinking all evening and was on tilt after Bellagio hell which contributed to a really bad loss.

On my final night again I started playing $100 tables after many drinks at happy hour and dinner which isn’t an excuse, but the game went poorly again and when I made a nice comeback I pressed my luck – losing 2 separate $500 hands on bad beats (double/split hit to 19 & 20 vs. dealer 5 where dealer hits to make 21) and ended up down again for my last night.

Unfortunately, it was another rough CES gambling trip, so what went wrong…

This trip was long – arrived at Paris Las Vegas on Monday the 2nd and didn’t head home until Sunday the 8th.  That is the first challenge – with so much time there are plenty of chances to hit the tables and so sticking to a game plan isn’t as easy as a 48-72 hour trip.

I was also very busy with work meetings and an event that our company participated in which I was leading.  Challenge #2 – I am usually distracted while at CES with work obligations and this time with a major event which means that blackjack becomes my relaxation activity from the stress of the week so I’m likely to play with less focus on my game and try to extend my table time as a way to wind down from long days.

Of course there is also plenty of alcohol flowing at every happy hour and business dinner which leads to challenge number 3, drinking and gambling.  I like to drink and gamble, but usually I don’t start until I’m at the tables and then I can pace myself, when I arrive at the table a few drinks in it typically leads to loose and aggressive play which works fine when cards are in my favor, but this time they went the other way.

The last of my personal blackjack challenges during CES (the struggle is real) is playing with co-workers and friends.  I can’t really say no when friends and co-workers want to play and I can’t say hey let’s go play at the $100 tables so we end up with the masses at $15 6:5 auto-shuffle hell holes pissing away a few hundred bucks with almost no chance of winning which chips away at the week’s bankroll.

These are all excuses,  I realize that, but I need something to keep me motivated to stick with my blackjack game plans early in the year.  It honestly sucks to start the year in a hole that I’ll be digging out of all year-long.

The good news is I have 4 planned Vegas trips through June to make my comeback so stay tuned to see where we go from here!

 

 

3rd Annual Blackjack Year In Review

It’s that time again avid reader.  We look back at 2016 and recap my year of gambling trips running down the wins and losses along the way.

This was another fun year, but unfortunately another negative result on the balance sheet.  I set a new personal best with 13 casino trips and matched my previous record of 6 Vegas trips including a cross-desert drive from Phoenix to Vegas.  This earned my first ‘Diamond’ status with Total Rewards, which likely won’t happen again until I retire.

I was lucky enough to meet @BlackChipDiary for a blackjack session at Aria in Vegas this summer.  We had our 3rd annual guys Vegas trip this summer which included a trip to DTLV and the El Cortez along with a win at Roulette which is almost unheard of.  I also added a new state to my roster of casino visits with a quick trip to Talking Stick in AZ.

Here is a rundown of the year by the numbers:

  • 13 trips with casino visits – new record
    •  6 trips to Vegas – ties record
  • Largest loss in one trip -18 yards – 15 yds less than worst in 2015
  • Largest win in one trip +15 yards – 15 yds better than best in 2015
    • Included a ‘chocolate chip’ (5k) session
  • Largest loss on one hand – 9 yards
  • Largest win on one hand + 12 yards
  • Diamond status with Total Rewards – 1st time for me
  • Total win/loss for 2015 – 42 yards (better than 2015, but still in the red)

Another fun year in the books,  with great trips and always interesting casino experiences.  I’m headed to Vegas on Jan 2nd so I have an early chance to put some points on the board in my favor for 2017.

Remember that National Blackjack Day is March 2nd and hopefully I’ll see you at the tables!