trip report
  • Out in Vegas for two days this weekend. Pretty mellow in Vegas post New Year's madness -- very cold and not a terrorist in sight. Stayed at the Rio and mainly played there -- did well at the bj tables (thanks to all who replied to my inquiry about house rules there) but continually got clobbered when I took a "break" and visited the craps tables. I must have blown at least half my eventual winnings (56 units) betting on the dice.

    Anyway ... I've modified my bj approach to playing to include a variety of elements that I believe give me a decent shot at winning. These elements include: basic strategy; mag 7; a loose variant of my zebra progression; a non-counting "awareness" of the composition of the deck (paying particular attention to the availability of tens in the remaining deck); a somewhat aggressive approach to moving my base unit up (and down again as warranted) as I accumulate winnings; and a willingness to martingale after a loss at the first step of the zebra series -- if & only if deck composition warrants.

    I know that last sentence was an eyeful and I can try to answer specifics should anybody have a question but I won't go into the details or you'll ban me from the board.

    As I say, I played primarily at the Rio (and yes the dancing cocktail waitresses are a fun addition -- certainly so for the male gamblers playing in the sight lines of the various dance stages) -- but I did venture onto the strip as usual for a little walking tour of a few other spots. One of my favorites has always been the Barbary Coast. It's kind of an old place but I find it to be a comfortable choice with plenty of pitch games and decent rules (including surrender in a $25 double deck pitch game which is an important rule variation to me). Well I didn't need to surrender all night at the Barbary. They should have been surrendering to me. I was very hot. Bought in for $500 and played my "system" for about an hour and a quarter using a $25 unit (at a $10 table). I've played there plenty in the past and when I bought in they asked me who I was -- and I told them -- so they found me in the database and began to rate my play.

    One thing I've tried to adopt from Renzey and others on this board is the concept of increasing bets in situations where deck composition would indicate a better chance of winning (more tens available) -- and minimizing bets where deck composition would indicate a better chance of losing (fewer tens availiable) -- and also minimizing bets in situations where I don't know (because my "awareness" is quite imprecise) what the deck composition would indicate. Empirically, I have also experienced streaks -- hot and cold runs -- and so I have kept an element of progressive betting in my system -- though I have scaled it down somewhat in importance -- when deck composition would indicate retreat rather than advance is in order.

    In combination with my progression and an occasional martingale step -- or two -- this had my bets all over the map -- ranging from 1 unit to 14 units (I'm guessing at this number) depending on the situation. I had three members of the pit crew watching my play -- as well as that of two other players at the table who were also doing very well. The pit crew was quite close and constantly whispered amongst themselves as our stacks grew taller. Eventually somebody from "upstairs" came down and informed me that I had to color up my chips and that I was no longer welcome to play blackjack at the Barbary Coast but that I was welcome to play any other games if I liked. I colored out $2700 -- which granted is a big return on my initial buy-in -- but definitely not a backbreaker to the Barbary -- and I headed down the line on my casino crawl. Next door at the Flamingo -- where I also have played a lot and have been rated and comped for a few years, a pit boss stood so close to me the entire time I played that it was extremely uncomfortable to sit there. I lost a couple of hundred (not because of nerves but bad cards) and then headed back to the Rio to go to bed.

    I am concerned now that I've been put on some kind of a universal blacklist, that my play will be scrutinized and that more casinos will show me the door when I get hot. I don't know how that whole system works -- but I'm rather miffed about the whole deal. I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on the board -- about any and all of the above -- playing approach, blacklisting, flying low under the radar when winning, datasharing between casinos, and particularly the dancing girls at the Rio.
  • I'll give you a quick response on just your last few words... the dancing girls "bevertainers"(y'know there are guys too I've heard) at Rio are fun to look at but it's become hard to get a drink in less than an about 30 minutes.

    All the old servers were fired, some after alot of years there.

    If you liked the dancers, what about the dealers at the bikini bj pit?
  • All right...I'm miffed....where were the guy dancers when I was there???!!! Zebra, I'm glad you had such a successful session. Don't know about the pressure....I guess I hope I would get good enough to deserve such scrutiny from the pit crew. Maybe some of the others will be able to tell you if you will have lasting consequences. Then again, I just read Bringing Down the House, and if it's true, there is a black list.
  • Zebra

    I haven't played at the Barbery Coast for about 2 years. Last time I played there they were cutting a 6 deck shoe at about the middle 3 decks). Was staying at the Imperial Palace so went back there to play. How deep a penitration do they give at the Barbary Coast now? The rules were good for a basic strategy player, but the penitration made the A-10 front count impossible.

  • Alas -- I missed the bikini pit -- I have no idea what you're talking about -- probably a whole section of the casino that I didn't even get to. Drinks weren't too hard to get actually -- five minute wait in most cases -- ten tops. I had a bit of a cold so was furiously drinking hot tea all weekend and I never ran dry.

    And come to think of it, I did see one male bevertainer. He looked ridiculous.

    As for the penetration on the six deck shoes at the Barbary, I can't comment. I'm a double deck man and don't play shoes when I can get a pitch game. I like to handle the cards I guess.
  • zebra,

    You know, a lot of us count cards and try to act like we're not. You're not truly a counter, but managed to act enough like one to get backed off! What rotten luck, and I don't blame you for feeling miffed.

    I'm interested to see what others have to say about the possibility of you having been blacklisted.
  • Zebra - See e-mail I sent - G.
  • zebra, If your on a list, it is most likely a world-wide list. To play at
    a casino in London, you must Reg. with an ID 24 hrs. before you can
    enter and play. I'm sure you know what they do during that 24 hrs.

    Did you screw up is what your asking.....More than likely yes, if I follow
    your play correctly. Now days, if you win too much at a single table, the
    complexion of the game changes. You go from average Jo hoping to
    get lucky, to not so average Jo affecting the house bottomline. As you
    have seen from the attention given, it's a new ballgame after that.

    The casino does not have to be sure about your play; why take a chance
    could very well be their policy. You may or may not be on some list.
    I would guess your not..............................But next time beware.

  • Zebra, if you're in the Griffin Book, you'll be shown the door as soon as they identify you - winning or not.

    Lots of pleople win $2700 every day playing BJ, so it wasn't the amount that got you the attention. You must have somehow convinced them you were counting.

    The next time a PB is giving you attention, return the favor. Ask him to comp you a room (or a buffet), ask him for cigarettes, then say, "Oh I forgot I gave up smoking".
  • Zebra, If the pit was tracking your bets as a counter they would be
    looking for a 1-6 bet spread(double deck). I would guess that your
    high bets, say 12,14 units were a result of a one or two step martingale.
    Based on these assumptions, I'ts safe to say you had them talking to themself
    for good reason. And all of this going on at a ten dollar table. I bet you
    were enjoying every minute of it.

    Did they say anything to the two other winners?

  • Ray -- you're right that my bigger bets were forced martingale bets after the first bet in my series (which goes 3x, x, 1.5x, 2x, 3x, 5x, 7x, x, x, ...) lost -- so after 2 steps I'm at 12x (deck composition permitting). I was enjoying it -- but was also a bit nervous at the obvious attention (heat?) they were giving me. A few Irish coffees helped and also I kept telling myself, "I'm not counting, and I'm not cheating -- so I'll just ride this as long as it goes." Turns out, it didn't matter what I was doing, but what they thought I was doing. They didn't say anything to the other two guys -- one was winning big -- but he was basically flat betting -- the other was not winning as big and was basically varying his bets between one and four units. If anybody was counting, it was him.

    Mr. Ed -- I'm confused by your comments by giving the pit a little attention back -- why would one do this? To actually elicit a comp? To create rapport? To show fearlessness in the face of heat? None of these ends seem particularly likely to result in anything positive for a player in my position. Or are you just goofing me? (Which would certainly be quite ok with me by the way.)
  • I'm serious; it creates rapport, and deflects heat. Mostly do it to give you peace of mind because if you bug the pit boss long enough, he'll either
    - be your friend (really-both of you might hit it off)
    - leave you alone (you can have a sigh of relief)
    - ignore you or continue to glare (then you KNOW something is very wrong. Then you flat bet until you leave, before you get the tap on the shoulder.)

    All this is just my personal style. I'm sure others would do it differently.

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