racquet
racquet
Joined: Dec 31, 2014
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October 27th, 2016 at 4:55:25 PM permalink
I'm going to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks with the sole purpose of playing blackjack. Just a couple of days, as a test of this AP thing - not to break the bank but solely to see if this hobby is deserving of more time. No distractions - wife, national parks, shows - just blackjack.

I'm staying downtown and won't be renting a car. I can get in and out, airfare and hotel room, for about $500.

Any advice? Session lengths, pacing myself, casinos to avoid? Best time of day? Best cheap food?

Is the Blackjack Survey on this site, with a date of January 2016, still reasonably accurate? How do you sort it by location so that I can focus only on downtown casinos, which I think have, overall, the best games. Is that still true?

A technical detail.

Every game seems to have it's own basic strategy. H17 v S17 has, what is it, three or four differences? 2-deck vs 6-deck. RAS, no RAS. I currently play where there is only one set of rules, so my BS play is perfect - for that game only. With a variety of games in store for me, should I bone up on the variations in BS? I know the obvious answer - of course I should - but I know that not playing all of the indices or Fab4 does not impact the result to any great extent, so I don't worry about all of them - unless I have a lot of money out there. But "basic" Basic Strategy that is not the same for all rules - how important is it to play the right one?

Any other advice for a hopeful AP?
Joeshlabotnik
Joeshlabotnik
Joined: Jul 27, 2016
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October 27th, 2016 at 5:36:05 PM permalink
Quote: racquet



Any advice? Session lengths, pacing myself, casinos to avoid? Best time of day? Best cheap food?



First of all, you will have no idea, simply based on your results, whether AP blackjack is a worthwhile pursuit for you. You will have no idea if you're playing perfectly or making two blunders a minute.

The real variations you need to learn are between shoe games and single-deck games--because if you're staying downtown, the El Cortez single-deck game is the one you should play. The rest of downtown doesn't offer a lot of variation--it's mostly 6-deck H17 games. The Boyd casinos (Fremont, California, Main St Station) have all had decent double deck H17, but those games are slowly being crowded out. The good news is that downtown isn't dominated by 6:5 crapjack the way the Strip is.

As far as BS variations, the only real issue is learning when to modify your splitting rules when you're playing a shoe game that has DAS. I don't think there are any differences between BS in single deck S17 or H17 games. You'll never have to deal with surrender rules downtown--the only place I've ever seen it, and that was long ago, was at the Golden Nugget. The GN BTW has always had pretensions of being like a Strip casino, so the games there might have more of a "Strip feel" to them (for a while, they even dealt S17).

Try several different casinos. If you play against shoe games, try to monitor and mentally record the penetration you get. This makes a huge difference in whether the game is beatable. Limit yourself to about an hour in any one casino, and set session stop-loss and stop-win limits. The most important thing you'll be doing is getting comfortable with keeping the count. See if you can still keep it when the cocktail waitress comes around or when somebody lights up a stinkarette or when a drunk burps in your face. Monitor yourself and see if you're making the proper play and betting adjustments without a hitch. You will have to be not just comfortable, but adept.

Downtown eats: Market Street Cafe at the California (my recommendation for best cheap food), and Magnolia's for good coffee shop food. Buffets: not as huge as the big Strip buffets, but Fremont and Golden Nugget are pretty good, and Main Street Station is very good. For a great steak, try the Second Street Grill at the Fremont. I also recommend the Triple 7 Brewpub at MSS. Even if you don't eat there, DEFINITELY have some of their microbrews. And if you want to splurge, hit Hugo's in the basement of the Four Queens. (Join the player's club wherever you eat--there are often discounts for cardholders.)

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
BW21
BW21
Joined: Dec 30, 2015
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October 27th, 2016 at 7:01:14 PM permalink
The El Cortez single deck is probably your best option. You might find a few playable double decks and some shoe games. Last time I was downtown the pen was pretty crappy. Double decks were like 50- 60 pct and shoes like 70-75 pct.

Just focus on learning how to keep the count at low stakes and take that home practice into a real environment. Just one weekend results will not tell a lot about your skill level. Anything less than a few thousand hands is just noise.

Good luck. Focus on the process and not the results.
prozema
prozema
Joined: Oct 24, 2016
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October 27th, 2016 at 7:31:59 PM permalink
My goal is to get backed off at El Cortez... Or at least have countermeasures deployed. Seriously though, work on whatever you want then take advantage of the free drinks and party. How often do you really get away from everybody?!?
prozema
prozema
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October 27th, 2016 at 7:33:03 PM permalink
Oh, and I hear the party pits have AWFUL rules in the house favor.
racquet
racquet
Joined: Dec 31, 2014
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October 29th, 2016 at 9:07:51 AM permalink
Quote: Joeshlabotnik

First of all, you will have no idea, simply based on your results, whether AP blackjack is a worthwhile pursuit for you. You will have no idea if you're playing perfectly or making two blunders a minute.

I've played more than two thousand hours of casino blackjack, and have enough logged statistics to know that, at a minimum, I am not making two blunders a minute. There is no videotape to review, and we are all suffer from subjective memory, but I bet that a lot of serious APs are anal like me and love to keep logs and spreadsheets. I have results. I have an idea.
Quote: Joeshlabotnik

The most important thing you'll be doing is getting comfortable with keeping the count. See if you can still keep it when the cocktail waitress comes around or when somebody lights up a stinkarette or when a drunk burps in your face. Monitor yourself and see if you're making the proper play and betting adjustments without a hitch. You will have to be not just comfortable, but adept.

These distractions and adjustments are universal, unless the downtown waitresses are more well-endowed, the cigars more pungent, the burps more potent. I deal with these things two or three times a week. They may, rarely, bump me off the count, but when they do I wong out or revert to minimum bets until a shuffle. I am pretty adept.
Quote: Joeslabotnik

...if you're staying downtown, the El Cortez single-deck game is the one you should play.


I want to hit the El Cortez if only to soak up the experience that I have read so much about. All the better if it has a good game, for as long as it lasts.
Quote: Joeslabotknik

Limit yourself to about an hour in any one casino, and set session stop-loss and stop-win limits.

Only an hour at a casino seems a little abrupt. Especially since, if I'm there for two full days, I'm going to run out of casinos pretty quickly. Plus I would think that a single session of a couple of hours seems less obvious than several one hour sessions: buy in;, color up; cash out; rinse; repeat.

Thanks for the dining pointers.

I'll look at the differences in BS based on specific details of the games I know about - is the Jan 2016 survey on this site still reasonably accurate?

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