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!




Two Gambling Trips in One Week

I got a new job – #excited!  I was lucky enough to have 2 weeks off between jobs which gave me some down time.  Of course when I get down time that means a trip to a casino.  In this case I was able to get 2 trips in.  First was a 36-hour Vegas jag, 2nd was a quick guys trip to Harrahs Cherokee.

First trip first, Vegas has gotten to be a solid routine for me.  Stayed at my favorite, Planet Hollywood, and spent time at PH, Paris and Ballys.  Started at the $100 tables which didn’t go well, but then broke even for the next 12 hours at the $25 tables.

Interestingly the 2 places I came out ahead in day 1 were poker – 2 place chop at PH tourney – and Craps where I came out with 3x buy in on the first craps game I’ve played in at least a year.

Morning of day 2 started out strong with wins at the $100 tables, but then gave it all back.  The trip ended with a solid win at $100 tables to get back to roughly even for the 36-hours.

After that solo adventure it was fun to have a guys trip to Cherokee NC.  The guys are poker players so I spent 90% of my time in the poker room.  We played $2-5 NLH which was fun after not playing live cash games in years.  We played 3 separate long sessions.  Session 1 was a nice win, session 2 was not well played and ended in losses, and session 3 was another solid win.

I was happy with my play.  Haven’t played in a long time and was making moves both with and without good cards.  It was nice to get a different gambling experience and see that I could win in another venue.

Will keep my blackjack focus, but nice to branch out and get new gaming wins under my belt.

Big Blackjack Loss at CES Vegas January 2014

I was coming into 2014 after a pretty strong 2013 where overall I was up several hundred dollars, developed a nice routine in Vegas and made progress on my blackjack system.  With that in mind I was excited to head to CES where I would be able to get in some solid table time in addition to my business meetings and responsibilities.

As you can tell by the title of this post my 2014 gaming season didn’t get off to a good start.  The combination of fairly large crowds, lack of spare time to execute the strategy, lots of drinking at industry events, and playing with other people led to a very bad three day stretch.

The first night I was able to get out on the strip by myself for a couple of hours, however Planet Hollywood was a zoo so I tried Aria and the only table I could find where I had the chance to play alone was $50 and I never got any traction.  Night one was a bust and I had a feeling this was going to be a tough trip.  The second afternoon and night was more of the same.  Between happy hours and meetings I got in some blackjack, but it was always rushed and involved playing with industry friends so it was fun, but never profitable.

I went into night three with a flat tire and leaking oil.  Night three was the end of CES so I thought it would be a chance to make a comeback, but I was on a cold streak and never found my footing.  I played the system and found empty $25 tables, but the cards were not in my favor and then I pressed my luck at the $100 tables and compounded my losses to end the three day trip down over $2k – big ouch.