Learning When to Walk Away From the Blackjack Table

I had a quick trip to Horseshoe in Iowa this week.  Was in town for work and had a free night so I expected to spend 5-6 hours playing blackjack.  From my last trip I knew to stay away from Harrahs ad headed straight from the airport to Horseshoe.  As it turned out my night was much shorter than expected.

I arrived at around 6p and by 7 I knew it was my night, and that I’d have to leave sooner than expected.  I sat by myself at the $25 table in the high-roller room and the first shoe instantly doubled my buy-in.  I thought about leaving immediately, but I don’t have that kind of discipline and I wanted to keep playing.

I put my winnings in my pocket and pressed forward to an uneventful shoe 2, but shoe 3 was a monster tripling my buy-in – the highlight was a $200 bet split aces to make it $400 on the table against a 3.  My hands were soft 14 and soft 16 – dealer turned a 6, 6, 8 for a huge win.

I played out shoe 3 to see how hot my streak was going to be, and by the end I had given back some of the winnings and a couple other people came in the room so I pulled up stakes and had dinner.  As much as I hated it, I knew it was time to hit the road.  I love to play, but when you go up 4X in your first hour and there are only 3 $25+ tables open in the whole casino there was no way to keep up that pace.

I’m torn – on one hand I’m getting better as a player because I was smart enough to not give back my winnings – on the other hand I only get to play on rare occasions so when I do get to play a one hour session feels like a little bit of a let down.

I’m going to focus on the positive and the win, but if I’m being honest I’d like my wins to come after a few hours of play.


This Isn’t Blackjack Heaven, It’s Iowa

I took my first trip to an Iowa casino this week.  By my count this makes the 9th State I’ve gambled in over the years.  The casinos in western Iowa are just across the street from Omaha so when business called me to Nebraska I decided to give it a try.

Since I’m a Total Rewards fan the first stop I made was Harrahs Iowa – swing and a miss.  This place looked like something out of a bad movie.  It is dark, dingy and had maybe a dozen total table games in the middle of a sad little circle of slot machines.

Less than five minutes after walking in I’m back in my car and the GPS is pointing me to Horseshoe which is another Caesars property.  My hopes are low at this point and I’m already thinking about where I might get a late night beer in Omaha.

Luckily Horseshoe was a completely different vibe.  It reminded me of other mid-scale regional casinos I’ve played on over the years.  It was clean, open, with plenty of blackjack tables at multiple limits.  There was even a small high-limit room with $25+ limit tables just behind the poker room.

I didn’t have much time but I did spend a few hours playing $25 tables and was able to play alone for the entire night.  The dealers and floor staff were friendly and although I lost a few hundred on the night after starting off strong it was a good first taste of Iowa gaming and I’ll definitely return to Horseshoe on future trips.