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!

 

 

Another Winning Vegas Blackjack Trip March 2014

Even with the strong February trip I was in the hole for the year and needed to keep the good mojo rolling to get into the black for 2014.  This was a short two night trip for another speaking session at a small conference.  The timing worked well with a Tuesday arrival, event on Weds and late afternoon flight out on Thursday there was plenty of down time for the blackjack tables.

Since I had a solid run on my last trip I decided to stick with the same formula, stay at Elara, move between Ballys, Paris and Planet Hollywood.  The evening I arrived PH was fairly crowded so I headed to Paris where they had several wide open $25 tables.  I started off strong for once with the very first shoes netting a $500 head start.  I decided to call it an early night since I had to speak the next day and +$500/day isn’t bad for a hobby.

Day 2 work was good, but the blackjack wasn’t so hot – never try to impress people by playing cards – I took a few guys down to the tables during lunch and sure enough they did great while I dropped $200 in the blink of an eye.  After that depressing lunch and a few more hours of conference sessions I slipped out after the networking happy hour to hit my new favorite high-roller room at Ballys.  Ballys is a funny place – friendly dealers and a fairly nice lower end Vegas strip atmosphere, but their DJ wanders off from time to time and the high-energy music stops for 30 minutes or so and it feels like you are playing cards in a morgue.  I played for a long stretch at my high-limit table, had a nice solid run with ebbs and flows that generated a couple hundred on the plus side.  I decided to play my way back towards my hotel for an early night in order to wake up early for some extra play time on my final day.  My stop at Paris sucked $200 almost instantly from the bankroll which put me almost back to even for the trip and sent me to bed on a low note.

Day 3 was judgement day, I have a strategy, I had plenty of sleep and I’m playing in the morning which should give me plenty of alone time with the dealers.  8am on a weekday is an interesting time at a casino – at PH they actually keep the limits pretty high and tables were all busy since only the hard core are playing that early which forced me to walk to Paris – at Paris there were 2 $100 tables wide open, only 2 $25 tables which had players and when I aksed them to open another $25 they said no – they said it politely, but still a little frustrating so I headed to Ballys – best rejection of the week.  At Ballys I sat at my choice of wide open $25 tables  – plenty free there of course – and went on a super-heater.  On the first shoe I turned $300 into $1000 – couldn’t lose, turned 16s into 20s, dealer turned K’s into 15s and splits and doubles all hit.  It was a thing of beauty.  I quit while I was ahead – took my win and headed back to Paris where I thanked the pit boss who turned me away – she was very apologetic and thrilled that I won so it was all good in the end.

Since I was on a roll I skipped Paris and headed to the PH high-limit room to try to parlay the win.  I bought in for $700 figuring it was low enough to bail in case things went wrong.  The first shoe was a wash, up a touch down a touch.  Shoe 2 was a winner where I doubled my money and more – unfortunately I didn’t walk away with the more since I played out the entire shoe even after the heat died down and I gave back some of the winnings.  Now I had a problem – I won too fast – everyone knows that time is the biggest enemy of winning gamblers – the longer you play the better the chance of losing.  I had to kill several hours before my flight so I tried to fill some time playing craps – it was a fools errand, but it did at least cut some of the down time before my flight – I gave back a couple hundred of the winnings which may have been better than my results at blackjack over the same stretch, but we’ll never know for sure.