arcticfun
arcticfun
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August 14th, 2014 at 1:43:15 AM permalink
Reporting from travels! Here is a little bit of a low-down on BJ in the downtown casinos (there are many others in Prague, but I mainly hovered around the downtown area).

A: Banco Casino, Rating B+
I love this place. Two BJ tables, 3 roulettes and some casino poker. Entry requires registration / ID check, whereupon they give you a member card for free which you can then use instead of ID later. No points or rewards or anything. BJ Rules: 6decks, S17, DOA, DAS, surrender 2-T (not vs A), no hole card, split up to four hands. Splitting tens allowed. Penetration is hugely dealer dependent but is mostly pretty bad, cutting usually at least two decks out. At one point, I was playing alone and I asked to cut deeper "so that less time is spent shuffling" and they were like, pff ok whatever and cut only a single deck out. HAH!

Drinks are free (and waitresses lovely), as are cigarettes!! shame I don't smoke. But I got a pack and made friends with the local fauna later on because everyone smokes here, cigarettes are expensive, and people love you forever if you give them one. Min 100CZK (= $5), max 5000 (=$250). Also, tipping (especially tipping waitresses) is totally not in the culture here so getting special attention is pretty easy. The most awful thing here is the ploppies. I find that Euros are so bad at BJ. I'm talking hitting 15v6. Locals and tourists alike, I found... Like in Hamburg, you can bet on other players' spots. Dealers are mostly OK, with a mild sense of humor (a HUGE compliment for Czechs who are pretty much grumpy all the time...), doing things like putting the card face down on expensive doubles. Decent exchange rate vs EUR and USD, and the cool thing is that you can reclaim whatever you bought in for in foreign currency within 24 hours with no exchange penalty. Oh - don't try to beat the shuffle. That thing is completely impossible: half-decks are passed through three times each and interfingered like crazy from four piles.

B: Kasino Kartac, Rating F-
OMG if you want to go to a place that looks like it's run by the mob, go here. BJ is dealt out of CSMs. Dark alleys to get in and out. No drinks. I didn't stay long enough to get all their rules, but it's probably similar to Banco.

C: Casino Ambassador, Rating B-
Similar to Banco on rules and penetration. One key difference: if you want to surrender your hand, you have to do so before first base makes a move ... learned that the hard way. Cannot double for less (I was almost all-in (in local currency, had USD backup) on A2 v 6!!! :( :( :( luckily, I won the hand, and the cards were such that I would have lost on that double...) Same policy on exchanging foreign currency and getting it back, though their rate was somewhat worse here.

That's it for now. I'm looking forward to Mohegan Sun when I return home!

EDIT: when exchanging foreign currency, they're really strict on bill quality. The slightest fading or tears, if there's anything written on the notes, bill gets rejected. Basically, bring only the crispest, cleanest bills with you.
Romes
Romes
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August 14th, 2014 at 1:39:53 PM permalink
Nice report on the local scene! Would you mind sharing a bit more info, such as how you're doing (possibly bankroll, spread, etc, if you want)? How long were your sessions and did you get any heat at all? Sounds like a fun time with ok (~.45%) games. Keep hustling that penetration =P.
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
AxiomOfChoice
AxiomOfChoice
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August 14th, 2014 at 1:45:00 PM permalink
What about language? Does everyone speak English? Or will you have some problems there if you don't speak any other languages?

Prague is somewhere that I really want to visit -- I love Czech beer and Czech women :) Some good blackjack never hurts, of course!
beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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August 14th, 2014 at 4:33:12 PM permalink
Great info, arcticfun! Keep it coming, please.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
sodawater
sodawater
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August 14th, 2014 at 4:49:29 PM permalink
Arcticfun,

If a couple of beautiful young women show an interest in you (and/or your group) and suggest going out for drinks or a meal, NEVER let them choose the place. Offer to choose the place yourself. If they are really interested in hanging out, they will agree. Otherwise, you could fall victim to Prague's most common tourist scam, where the ladies rope you into a bar or restaurant, and when the check comes, everything is 20x more expensive than it should be. Then the bouncer will physically escort you to an ATM if you can't pay in cash.

Prague taxi drivers also sometimes get a piece of this scam, so don't let them suggest a restaurant or bar, either.
arcticfun
arcticfun
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August 15th, 2014 at 7:57:24 AM permalink
Regarding my play - I came in with $1000, exchanged half of it, played $5-$50 (which is REALLY small play compared to my usual action), lost a bunch and exchanged my remaining cash. I ended up winning about $250 or so, so I got my $1000 back but the winnings had to be kept in local currency. I can happily add another successful data point to my empirically-determined "Trip-BR = 150x min bet" rule. As for heat .... Honestly, nothing. I don't think these guys think that BJ is beatable. So much money is made from tourists coming in thinking they own the game. I was pretty obvious -- min-bet on first hand, big bets only toward the end ... had my full stacks plainly visible ... There aren't any "pit bosses" the same way they have them in the US. There's a single "manager" watching over all the games, mostly the roulette tables because that's where the highest emotions are coming from. Dealers are watched by a second person, who is basically another dealer taking a break, to catch mispays or other mistakes. They rotate every 45 mins or so.

I forgot to add no RSA, and split aces get exactly one card. (remember to hit AA vs A!!). Also interesting is the VERBAL commands carry a lot of weight. Cameras are fitted with microphones, and they give verbal commands (stay, hit, etc.) priority over conventional hand signals.

@Ax: everyone speaks English fluently, and enough German and Russian to deal with other tourists. That's the case basically everywhere in CZ, so don't worry about language barriers.

@Romes: your HE calculation of -0.4% surprises me a little -- seems high. Did you add the effect of early surrender vs 10? or does the no-hole card rule just make it that bad?
Romes
Romes
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August 15th, 2014 at 8:28:39 AM permalink
Quote: arcticfun


@Romes: your HE calculation of -0.4% surprises me a little -- seems high. Did you add the effect of early surrender vs 10? or does the no-hole card rule just make it that bad?



For 6D, S17, DAS, DOA, Resplit to 4 hands, 3-2, Player loses all bet on dealer BJ (which might actually not be true), No Surrender (factor in ES later).... I get: ~.54 (realistic).

http://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/calculator/

Factor in no hole card (+.11 to the house), early surrender to 10 (-.24) and that totals up to = ~.41 ...I was taking a rough guess with ~.45.

http://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/rule-variations/

Sorry, I was assuming Euro style you lost your doubles/etc to dealer BJ. If you don't then take .11 away from that for ~.30 HE. If you double and only get 20, and the dealer has BJ, do you lose just your original bet, or do you lose the double wager as well?

That's pretty interesting that they have mic's and verbal commands hold. Gotta be careful when joking around about hitting 17 =p. If you don't lose your doubles, etc, then I'd say hustle that PEN and fire away with no heat =). Might not hurt to ask if you can bet "a little" more to try to get a 15-1 spread or so. Then you should be lookin at a pretty decent game!
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
arcticfun
arcticfun
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August 15th, 2014 at 9:22:19 AM permalink
You're right, dealer BJ means you lose all splits and doubles in addition to your original bet. NVM.
Romes
Romes
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August 15th, 2014 at 9:38:32 AM permalink
Quote: arcticfun

You're right, dealer BJ means you lose all splits and doubles in addition to your original bet. NVM.



.41 is still beatable with good PEN and a decent spread. I'd still play this and have fun on a trip, especially with the no heat. Again, I'd really try to get them to let me bet $5-$75, which doesn't seem too unreasonable, and I would think to have a decent chance at it with the 'private club' atmosphere as opposed to the corporate rules of a large casino.

Keep coming with updates if you find new places or play more! =)
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
AceTwo
AceTwo
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August 18th, 2014 at 6:26:49 AM permalink
Quote: Romes

Nice report on the local scene! Would you mind sharing a bit more info, such as how you're doing (possibly bankroll, spread, etc, if you want)? How long were your sessions and did you get any heat at all? Sounds like a fun time with ok (~.45%) games. Keep hustling that penetration =P.



The game described is the 'Standard' game in Eastern Europe and other locations inetrnationally.
The Ev of the game is around -0,26% (not -0,45%).

If you look around in Czech Republic, you will also find in 1 casino a game with an extra rule which makes it a Positive EV of around +0.15% provided you know how to play the extra rule.
(Do not ask me where exactly or what the rule change is.)

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