Will 5th Vegas Visit in 2014 be a Charm?

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I have a 4+ hour flight to Vegas so for me getting there is definitely not half the fun.  That being said, I just booked my 5th Vegas trip of 2014 and I couldn’t be more excited.  In my previous 4 trips I’m basically break-even with a couple of caveats.

The 2 trips where I was solo and had an opportunity to play my system on my own schedule I won several thousand dollars.  The 2 visits where I was with other people and played between meetings or sat at games out of convenience or camaraderie I was down several thousand.

This 5th trip is a solo event, no distractions, plenty of time to play blackjack my way, on my own terms.  That is a great thing, but it also adds pressure.  It will be my last opportunity in my quest to become a better blackjack player to make this a winning year.  And I have no excuse not to win.

The funny thing about this trip is that it is a mini-celebration of keeping my job.  Our company had massive layoffs and I was lucky to avoid the axe.  So as a gift to myself I’m taking this trip and staying at a comp room at my favorite place Planet Hollywood Las Vegas.  And in case you are wondering my consolation gift to myself if I did get the axe was the same trip.

I’ll keep the blog up to date on my prep for the trip and then will try to live blog or maybe live tweet my 48 hours of blackjack next month so everyone can follow my results.

Myth Buster: An Entire Blackjack Table Can Win Together

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Much like the Yetti and the stripper working her way through law school there is an urban legend that an entire table full of blackjack players can sit down and all walk away winners.  I’ve heard friends claim it happened on that ‘best night ever’ stories, but since I’ve never experienced it in real-life I assumed it was just drunk revisionist history to make themselves look good.

I’m now a believer after my last trip to my current favorite place on earth, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas.

To set the scene it was the last stand of our 48 hour gambling bender at the $25 Pleasure Pit tables at Planet Hollywood.  My buddy and I were playing together and holding our own at break even when two guys came and sat at first and third base.

The first sign that I liked these guys was that they asked if they could join us or wait until the shoe ended.  THANK YOU, a pet-peeve of mine is the guy who barges in no matter what the situation.  Our shoe was about to end so they waited a couple of hands for the shoe to end and the shuffle to take place.

Another good sign was the guys introduced themselves and had a very positive attitude.  If you’re going to try to win some money together it is nice to be able to root for each other by name and be able to share some laughs and pain.

The clincher for me was the 2nd hand in when 3rd base surrenders 15 vs. 10 showing and the rest of us win when the dealer busts.  Gotta love someone at 3rd base who knows how and when to surrender.

Now we’re off and running.  Everyone is drinking, cheering, and most importantly, winning.  3rd base is a good player, but erratic bettor.  One hand is $25 and the next is $150 without any rhyme or reason.  This doesn’t affect our play so it makes things interesting to watch.  After shoe 1 I’m level, 1st base is up a couple hundred, my buddy is up a couple hundred and 3rd base is up at least 500.

In shoe 2 is when we know this is going to be good – 3rd base splits a $150 bet with 3s against a 3.  First hand is a 13, 2nd hand another 3, split with hand 2 a 13 which is hit to get to a 19 and then hand 3 is an 8 for a double which the dealer deals down.  He has $600 on these three hands and the dealer turns a 5 – next card is a 10.  The rest of us win, push, lose, but we don’t care.  3rd base is tied and looking at $300 riding on his face down double card.  Dealer turns it over and we go nuts – King – 21 – winner!

Now we are off to the races.  We play through several shoes, a few of them are pushes, but most are winners for everyone.  We are getting drunk, having fun and winning some serious money.  At one point a guy hovers thinking about sitting in the one vacant seat, but we all give him the silent stink eye treatment and he wanders away.  If he had sat we all would have left.

After one more great run, my friend is about to fall over drunk so we all declare that the end of the shoe is the end.  The shoe ends uneventfully, we shake hands with our new best friends and we all head our separate ways.  This might be the first and last time we all experience the Yetti of blackjack tables.

Review of Planet Hollywood Casino Las Vegas

It is fitting that my first review of a casino is Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  It is my current favorite gaming location and my last visit was early April 2014.  I’ve played at most Las Vegas strip casinos as well as several regional casinos and this would be my first choice if you asked me where do you want to gamble tomorrow.  My criteria for favorite casino probably doesn’t apply to everyone, but here is what I like about PH.

I’m a blackjack player first and foremost and Planet Hollywood offers a solid amount of tables in a variety of minimums from $15 to $100.  They have a high energy vibe on the casino floor which is still upscale which is a hard combination to find.   The dealers are all extremely friendly and they make an effort to treat their guests well.  I’ve been to PH about a dozen times in the past 3 years and there are always a few dealers and pit bosses who remember me – it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering how many people come through here and how little recognition you receive at other casinos it’s a refreshing experience.  The Pleasure Pit is also a nice bonus with very attractive and friendly women in very skimpy outfits dealing blackjack.

Outside of blackjack they have great music rocking the place, a fun dance entrance for the Pleasure Pit girls every night at 8pm to the song Phamous, and a nice mix of the young and pretty crowd with the 30-40 year olds who can afford $25 tables and like modern pop/dance music.  The tables games are a good mix of minimums with $5 craps at off hours during the week and even a decent size poker area.  The high-limit room is fairly small, but very nice atmosphere with an attentive and professional staff.

If you aren’t a gambler then PH has the added benefit of being attached to a mid-sized mall with all types of shops, bars and restaurants.  None of the restaurants are super nice, but if you just want a quick burger, taco or sandwich and a beer they have all kinds of options.  My favorite for a quick breakfast or lunch  is Earl of Sandwich which is attached to the casino and even gives or takes Total Reward points.

Overall my ratings for Planet Hollywood Las Vegas is an A

Gaming – A

Atmosphere – A

Food – B+ for casual fare, lower if you want something nice or a business dinner

People watching – B, I like a little more trashy, funny characters, but I did see best mullet ever on last visit wish I took a pic

Friendly dealers/staff – A

Nightlife – none that I know of