I'm 21 & going on my first Las Vegas trip! Can you pros
  • ...give me any advice to assist in short term victory?

    Well, the long story is that I just turned 21 a week ago and I'm all about Las Vegas. We're planning a Las Vegas trip in December (me and 3 of my friends) and lately I've been obsessed with Blackjack.

    I recently became obsessed with the idea of Vegas and of taking a vacation there, and I can't wait, but a month ago I figured, "Hey, if I'm going I might as well learn up on some of the games I'll be playing."

    Now, a hundred websites and two books later, basic strategy is part of my blood and I'm learning a couple of basic count systems (Hi-Lo & Knockout).

    What I'm concerned about is, I know that in the long term it's hard to get an edge over the house, and if you do it's small BUT

    *Is there any specific advice you pros can give me to walk away a short term winner (and hey, maybe even pay for my vacation?)*

    I know that if I'm going to gamble, then I should view my $200 bankroll as "entertainment expenses" and just expect to lose it all. And I know not to chase my loses. As long as I'm being fed drinks by hot cocktail waitresses I'll be happy. And if I don't lose all my money, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

    But that doesn't mean that I don't entertain fantasies of winning big and walking away from Vegas $1000 richer than when I came. So help a young, starry eyed man out and give him some advice for his first trip to Las Vegas.

    (BTW, I've been researching casinos and hotels like mad; www.cheapovegas.com is a great site; As is www.wizardofodds.com, but for entirely different reasons.)
  • I just did all the necessary calculations and found that at a $5 minimum, my risk of ruin (losing every single dollar I have) for a $100 bankroll is something crazy like 35% if I play for 4 hours, and shoots to like 60% if I play for 8 or 9.

    If I try to get cute with a $200 bankroll, my risk of ruin at $5 a hand is thankfully only about 8% but goes way up to 40% if I play for 10 hours over the weekend.

    Ouch. Well, I knew what I was getting into when I started. =)

    I know that no progressive betting sequence is beneficial in the long run (you'll still lose about as much in the end), but I wonder if it could be helpful in the short term? My usual strategy is to bet 5% of my bankroll no matter what I'm at.

    So if I have $100 in chips in front of me, I bet $5 a hand. If I lose down to $80, I lower my bet to $4. If I get on a winning streak and find myself at $140, my bet goes up to $7. Basically, every $20 up or down changes my bet by $1. Of course this assumes a $1 table minimum and that I'm not adjusting my bets from counting. I find that this is in a way the same as flat betting, but makes it a lot harder for me to lose my ass completely, and if I start winning I rise through the ranks a lot quicker.
  • Not a pro... but my best advice is to stick with what you an do WITHOUT a mistake. If you can play any of the systems you mention PERFECTLY, then play it. With $200 plunk it all down on a $5 table. Thats about the best you can do with that size bank-roll. Quit if you lose or win half. Make your top bet $20. Play ONLY the dealer STANDS soft 17 games. If you can't find any, DON'T PLAY. DO NOT play spanish 21 unless you know basic strategy for spanish 21 PERFECTLY.

    The best experience you can have centers around finding the best game, and playing perfectly.

    Pauly57
  • Well, I certainly don't want to scare off advice by only asking for it from 'pros'. Let me tell you, from my vantage point, anyone who's been to Vegas is more of a Pro than me at this point. So I want to hear what anyone has to say.

    You're right, I'm all about boycotting this ridiculous Hit-Soft 17 rule too. We already have to fight to not have a losing edge in this game, and they want to make the odds WORSE? They are slowly KILLING blackjack!

    Also, I would LOVE to find a $1 table at the Sahara and plunk down $100 in chips to play with. That way if I dropped to $80 or $60, I could reduce my bets to $4 and $3 respectively.

    Also, I've never even heard of Spanish 21, so I wouldn't dare play it.

    But anyhows, thanks for your advice. Any words are appreciated.
  • Shade7x - you are doing all the right things and have a realistic view. Good work.

    Counting is a grind, but it works in the long run. Progressions are fun, but as you know, they don't work in the long run.

    For a weekend trip, I'd bring 200 units. So with $200, I'd play $1 tables (I don't know if these exist). At a $5 table and $200, you've only got 40 units, so there is a decent chance that you'll lose it all due to standard deviation (aka "luck"), but standard deviation might have you up $200 as well! You have the right attitude about "entertainment money", just maintain the discipline to NOT reach for your credit card when the $200 runs out.

    Ignore all advice at the table - there are a lot of idoits (including your buddies) who will tell you it's stupid to split 88v10, or hit A7v9, or hit 12v3. Ignore them and stick to BS. (by the way, all 3 of these hands are big losers, but they are even BIGGER losers if you don't follow BS)

    Get a good feel for what hands are good and which hands are bad. You'll feel a lot better, for example, knowing that 17 is one of the worst hands you can get, or that 88v2-6 is one of the best, or that splitting 22, 33, 66, 77 against 2 or 3 is a loser, or that 11 is the best hand you can get after BJ and 20. There are EV (expected value) tables on bjmath.com

    One last thing - take advantage of those free drinks! Probably the best way to make sure you end up ahead. (But please make sure you can handle it by playing hitorstand.com when you're smashed; the best time is when you come after a party and are ready to pass out. If you make any mistakes, then I suggest you ignore my suggestion about the free drinks.)

    Try out advantageplayer.com - it's a great site for advantage players.

    Good luck! I hope you beat the crap out of the casinos!!
  • Hey Shade,

    First off Happy Birthday. Welcome to the fabulous world of blackjack :D
    My best advice would be don't drink too much. The more you drink, the less attention you pay to the cards and the more you lose. Have maybe one or two drinks to get a little relaxed and not look like an AP. Also, it is proper etiquette to tip the drink server so each drink would cost you $1 of your bankroll. Which would you rather have, a bet or a rum and coke?
    2nd piece of advice. Be nice to the dealer and tip if you are getting winning cards. Especially if you are playing at off-strip hotels where the dealers don't usually see generous players. A few side bets for the dealer can make him or her your ally or at least make the game more enjoyable for you because you won't get "dealer attitude".
    The last advice is follow basic strategy perfectly and if you're going to count, pay serious attention to the cards. Losing count and betting big when the count is -2 can be devistating.
    Good luck. Hope you win a bunch!!!
  • Yeah, BJ Fan, I hear that you should be stingy in your tipping if you are trying to make money from Blackjack of the long term. But seeing as how I'm not trying to be a professional, just be good, I can certainly afford to tip the dealer some even if I lose, and a sizable chunk more if I win big.

    (Being a waiter, I have a different perspective on things. I know how it feels to live off the gratuity of others)

    I hear you about drinks, but at least one night, I'm going to sit down at a $1.25 a hand video poker machine, tip the server $5 on the first drink and give her a big smile. Even if I lose money, the fun, drinks, and flirting are still way cheaper than back here in Columbia, SC.

    Mr. Ed, you rock so hard. I have a small collection of favorite BJ sites, and I just found 2 more. Those are possibly some of the most valuable sites I have seen.

    And yeah, I'm well aware of what Standard Deviation can do to a $200 bankroll with a $5 minimum bet. That's why I'd love to go to the Sahara and play the $1 tables. With my 5% betting progression (keep altering the minimum bet unit to be 5% of my bank, rounding to the nearest dollar), even after a massive losing session, it would be almost IMPOSSIBLE for me to lose it all (and hence, have to stop playing) and I find this system softens my loses and pumps up my wins.

    The site with the hand ranks is going to be useful. I've oft wondered if a hand in front of me is a good or bad hand and what I can reasonably expect from it. Besides, if you really want to be good, you need to know the game inside and out. I think my biggest problem is going to be appearing like a normal schmuck kid at a Blackjack table and not showing off (god damnit it would suck to get into the 'suspicious database' on my very first trip).

    BTW, Mr Ed you have just given me a legitimate reason (and one that I plan to defend myself with when my friends ask me what the **** I'm doing) to drink vodka drink after vodka drink (at a standard server rate) while playing Blackjack and Video Poker to make sure I can handle myself.
  • Shade, you'll be making your first Vegas trip a lot better prepared than most of us were when we made our first trips there. If you do find a $1 table, I wouldn't worry about scrutiny if you play well. Don't expect to find examples of good play around you, though.

    The "Boardwalk" casino on the south Strip has $3 tables, but some or maybe all of those are CSMs, though that probably doesn't matter much if you're not counting. Lots of young college-age players there. Other than that it's hard even to find $5 tables on the Strip, except for Barbary Coast (six deck shoes shuffled by ASM's, reputation for being very watchful for counters.) Oddly, I think the only other place on the Strip where you can find a handful of $5 tables is Bellagio. Some of our seasoned players on this board like the Rio, about a half mile west of the Strip. I haven't been there, nor have I been to downtown Las Vegas.

    I agree with reasonable but not wild generosity on tipping. I tip with white chip bets ($10 minimum table) out front every 7 or 8 hands, or after a BJ, Double or Split win. I haven't noticed the red chip tippers getting any friendlier treatment. (However, one exceptional time I had a purple chip bettor next to me using black chips for tips. That got a lot of friendliness, along with pit bosses hanging around.) If you lived in this state (Arizona) you'd seriously consider changing your part-time job from waiter to dealer. They average $300 per eight hour shift, up to $800 on holiday weekends. Here in AZ they keep their own tokes; in most places in Vegas, they pool them, so some individual dealers who aren't by nature too friendly don't have much incentive to fake it.

    Have you read Fred Renzey's Blackjack Bluebook II yet? That book is required reading before you make the trip. Also recommended, for another point of view and if you're inclined to try progressions, is Walter Thomason's 21st Century Blackjack.

    Keep asking your questions. The rest of us are going to be pulling for the "new kid" in the game when you make your trip. But remember, it's entertainment. Expect that it's more than likely going to cost you something.
  • Shade- You said you are trying to learn a couple of count methods, Hi-Lo & K. O. Trying to learn a balanced count like Hi-Lo and an unbalanced count like K. O., at the same time, is like eating soup with a fork. Its just not a good idea.
    You are in for a treat. I still remember my first time in Vegas and that was 30+ years ago. One thing you may notice, time and money can go very fast in Vegas.
    You will understand more when you get back. BJ tables all over the place, but at a $5 or higher minimum. Your game plan may fly right out the window. See the sights, drink the booze (you will anyway) and party hardy. Just have fun...and good luck to you.
  • Other than that it's hard even to find $5 tables on the Strip, except for Barbary Coast (six deck shoes shuffled by ASM's, reputation for being very watchful for counters.) Oddly, I think the only other place on the Strip where you can find a handful of $5 tables is Bellagio. Some


    ... Than you dont know the Vegas strips very well. I was there just this summer for the 2003 NATIONAL CHESS OPEN FESTIVAL (9th place BLITZ tourney and MAD Bug action from 10PM-8AM!!) and across from RIVIERA next to Circus Circus is a place called Slots-a-Fun... they have $1 tables at certain hours of the day (usually GRAVEYARD times), and you can freely play at $3 tables. For your purposes, this would serve you well since you're not gonna be bringing that much anyway... I know this because I took advantage of these hella low-min tables myself... So this is one place FOR SURE you can take advantage of those $1 tables, there should be more!!

    But either way, indeed, enjoy yourself, and dont get too wild and IMPULSE BET just because you're tired of pushing your $5 or $1 SNOW chip around. That can quickly kill you. Where I stayed, the Riviera, they have a FREE PULL on a slot machine that you have a chance of winning $10,000 and at the very least you get a tight Mug just for participating. Always take advantage of the FREEBIES in Vegas... because they win so much from GAMBLERS already!!!
  • Shade7x- When you've finally learned what you plan on using in Vegas, hi-lo, ko, whatever- take that knowledge and practice somewhere else first. If you live anywhere a casino, I'd take a trip there first or maybe even a couple times so you at least have a feel of playing with your newly acquired knowledge before making your big trip. Buy six decks and practice if you haven't already. As mentioned in an earlier post, Slots a Fun is a little casino right next to Circus Circus and has lower minimum tables. they, as well as Circus Circus, and excalibur, ny-ny and Mandaly bay are all one company. Alot of your mid/lower tier casinos even on the strip still have $5 tables, if you're playing in the morning or early afternoon and during the week. I'll bet some of them have $5 tables 24/7. Good night clubs out there are Studio 54 in the MGM, Coyote Ugly in NY-NY, Seven right on the strip, RA in the Luxor, Rum Jungle and House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, Bikinis in Rio, Voodoo on roof of Rio, and I don't remember the names but in Palms there are a couple and in the Venetian there's one. Expect to pay $20 to get in at most of these.
    have fun-
  • 1st of all good luck. im not a pro. but i play quite a bit.
    you are way ahead of most people. i got cleaned by the casino a few times before i ever knew what was going on. so you are way ahead of most dopes likes me. but i consider myself a decent player now. i dont win everytime i play. but i know realistically what i can win and lose in a casino. and i always respect a win or a loss.

    discipline. discipline. discipline.
    its the hardest thing to do. but you must be disciplined. set your loss limits and your win goals. and make yourself stop when you get there.
    dont get me wrong, if you're winning. dont stop playing. but set your limits. example, if you set your win goal at $260. and you get there. keep playing aslong as your winning, but if you lose back down to $260. STOP!! walking away is the hardest thing to learn to do. and i believe it is something that you have to learn to make yourself do.

    take your books and a some cards with you. i have found it very helpful to go to my room and study up and practice. there are so many distractions in the casino, that no matter how much i read and strategize. it is always nice to go up to the room and refresh on everything.
    and check myself on the previous playing session. to make sure i played correctly. i dont do this much anymore, but i did a lot when i first started playing.

    i dont consider myself "lucky". but i have found that i have one good run at the tables for about every 10 hours of play. once i get that run and win some money. i stop, enjoy the freebies, the pool, the jacuzzi, the food, etc. and then i limit my loses cause i know that ive had my run. so i just try to be extremely disciplined when im not on my run. so i can have some staying power for when that run hits. and then i bet 'em up and try to get as much as i can.
  • oh, if im winning........im tipping.
    i have had a few times where something screwy has happened at a table and i know that i got the benefit of the doubt from the dealer because i was tipping.

    but i refuse to tip rude dealers. i dont care if i win a ton of money. if the dealer is an ass, im not giving them a nickel.

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