richodude
richodude
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DRich
July 12th, 2023 at 10:22:21 PM permalink
This guide is aimed towards newer/new counters with a bankroll under $10000. It will explain about a casino's blackjack what might not be listed on their website. I live in Northern Minnesota and wanted to share with you my observations from 4 different casinos (Fortune Bay - Tower, White Oak - Deer River, Black Bear - Cloquet, Grand Casino - Hinckley). First of all, casino gambling, pull tabs, bingo, sports betting, and poker are legally restricted to people 18 years or older, which is different than most states. All casinos mentioned offer the same ruleset of H17 s4 DAS RSA DA2 nSR. (dealer hits soft 17, you can split to 4 hands, you can double after splitting, you can resplit your aces, you can double any 2 cards, no surrender.) All information is current as of July 2023

Fortune Bay - Tower: This is by far the best option around. Standard penetration is 1 deck with a few dealers cutting off 0.75 decks. The pit consists of 10 tables, 8 blackjack, and 2 of those 8 are high-limit with 4 deck shoes instead of 6. Each table has an auto-shuffler for faster-paced play. 6 deck limits are 5-100, 10-200, and the rare 15-200. 4 deck limits are 25-300, 50-500, and the rare 15-200 (usually slow weekdays). You can play 3 spots maximum. I was able to play 58 hours coming twice a week before a backoff. 30 hours in I was made by the dealers/pit crew, but only management has the ability to refuse service. People planning to play at any of the high-limit tables must be careful because the tapes are allegedly reviewed every day (to find dealer mistakes) thus catching more card counters as a side product. Rat-holing money is an essential strategy here as large wins are a red flag for non-regulars. Winning $2500 in a shoe was what alerted the pit crew. Large bet spreads are (seemingly) safe as I was utilizing the full 1-20 table and no one seemed to care. The only issue with this place is the ID policy. Overall, giving up your name shouldn't be an issue unless you are part of a BOLO and are road-tripping. At the tables, an ID is asked for when you are bought in for $2500+. You can refuse, but once you get to $5000+ you must either hand it over or stop playing blackjack. Cashing out is tricky. At only $500, the cashier asks for your name. If you are not playing rated, give a fake name (use a fake name all night if you have to). At $1000+ Your ID is asked for. I've never tried refusing because I didn't want to seem suspicious, and I basically look like I'm 14 (maybe that's exaggerating but you do not get stamped here for 21-). If you do hand it over your name is written down and filed away, likely to never be touched again. Overall, this place is a must. I would even make an effort to drive up to 3 hours for this place. Come on the weekend and you will camouflage nicely.

White Oak - Deer River: White Oak is a very small casino with 3 tables, 1 of which is Ultimate Texas Hold'em. Another is almost always closed. The table is usually $10-100 with a strict 1.5d penetration. Hand shuffle is used. I've played on 3 separate occasions for 10ish hours total using no bet camouflage and a 1-10 spread. I even raised 0 heat even when cashing out $700 ahead. As an aside, UTH can generate a healthy $22/hr theoretical (30hands/hr) when the player pool is above $10k. You are awarded $50 whenever you hit a full house (~1/40 chance) and are betting at least $2 on trips. This works out to +73.6 cents a hand after the rake, which is 50 cents per hand no matter what. Of course, perfect UTH strategy is much harder than blackjack's so play at your own risk. Cashing out is no problem. I had $1400 chips and they didn't hesitate to give me bills. Overall I would not recommend coming here unless this is your closest option.

Black Bear - Cloquet: Black Bear is a medium casino with a 20-table pit. Sadly, as of late, a lack of dealers has put the pit to around 6 tables on the weekends, often creating lines to play. At least they are all blackjack and some Free Bet Blackjack. Free Bet has an interesting side bet, Pot of Gold, which becomes more profitable with a lower TC. Blackjack is all 6 decks with a strict 1.5d penetration and a lengthy hand shuffle. Tables are 5-100 and 10-200. I've been able to play with no heat, although it can be uncomfortable when a dealer announces max bet or criticizes your basic strategy error (I split 4's against a 4 with a TC ~10 and lost $150x3. The dealer then went on to explain never split 4s which is plain wrong). Do not play rated. You do not even get points if you do. If you were to use your card, the dealer rates you at the table which just wastes time. Cashing out is easy as well. Overall, do not play here unless you have no other option.

Grand Casino - Hinckley: Grand Casino is a large casino with a smoking and non-smoking section. The smoking section has only blackjack tables. I have only played in the non-smoking section which features a pit of 10 tables, 6 of which are blackjack. Penetration is 1.5-1 deck depending on the dealer. 6 decks limits are 5-100 and 10-200. The 4 deck game is 25-300 and higher upon request. The atmosphere is chill and is the only casino mention to offer 24/7 blackjack. Cashing out is no problem. I wouldn't risk playing rated unless you are looking for offers, which are mailed every month to player's club members. Overall, this is a fine place to play.

These are all the casinos I've been to and again, Fortune Bay is the best place for new counters. I hope someone's found this guide to be helpful. If anyone is interested, I'm still in the game and would be willing to team and combine bankrolls, (mine of ~$5000) just send me a DM. Keep in mind I cannot play at fortune bay.
ChumpChange
ChumpChange
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July 12th, 2023 at 10:46:04 PM permalink
This looks like an interesting post. I'm kinda stuck that the table maximums are so low. Grand Casino might get busloads of people in on the afternoons so they keep it tepid for the senior tourists.
I used to travel to Jackpot Junction, Treasure Island, Turtle Lake, and had one visit to Mystic Lake; all last century visits. I noticed Treasure Island was kicking out red chippers who attempted to count and even dragged one big black woman in her 40's away from the table after she was winning thousands at BJ. This was around 1995 before the internet. Some of these casinos just seem so sweaty it evokes comparisons to the El Cortez or some such, maybe worse. I tried counting at JJ one time and the dealer started dealing my cards face down instead of face up. He was a joker, but he had all the cards.
richodude
richodude
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July 12th, 2023 at 10:55:51 PM permalink
Quote: ChumpChange

I tried counting at JJ one time and the dealer started dealing my cards face down instead of face up.



??!?!?? Now that's interesting lmao.

I have not been towards Minneapolis yet and if I did go there, I would have to make a multi-day trip outof it to make it worth my while. I must add grand casino and blackbear only have 1 $5 game each. Fortune Bay usually has 3 or 4 $5 games on weekends. I sure am glad we live in the internet age where casino backrooms now make the AP way more money than counting ever could :)
ChumpChange
ChumpChange
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July 12th, 2023 at 11:09:56 PM permalink
I'm not sure how getting backroomed is going to make anyone money, except maybe darkoz. You just get face to face with nosey management and maybe they'll let you go unscathed.

I'm in New York State now and I'll have to budget $500 buy-ins for $15 tables and $1,000 buy-ins for $25 tables. If I had $5K, I'd start with the $500 buy-ins. But no, I'm not signing up to play on a team or anything.
Last edited by: ChumpChange on Jul 12, 2023
richodude
richodude
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February 26th, 2024 at 7:36:30 PM permalink
UPDATE 2/26/2024

Fortune Bay:
4/8 tables have lost their auto-shufflers. The high-limts and non-party tables still have them. That brings up the party pit. A promotion done every Friday from 8p-12a giving away ~$750 a night across the 4 party pit tables. The way you win money differs slightly but some common ones are getting dealt a certain hand like KQs or 77s which give $50 cash. Some more common hands like any 33 or any JJ award $25 in match play (fortune chips) which averages to $12.50 in cash value. A fun blackjack race happens every hour where the table to get the most blackjacks in 7 songs win $25 in match play for each person at the table. There are sometimes hot seat drawings for various amounts of money/chips depending if there is extra to give out towards the end. The only catch is you MUST use your players card which as I explained before, is not the worst thing here. Overall you can expect $13 - $20 an hour in EV depending on the promotions and assuming 75 hands an hour Perhaps you can play some 1-4 spread and never get caught. Even play $1 on the TriLux side bet every hand and sacrifice $2.43 /hour for maximum cover.

Allegedly, you are allowed to play until you win $5000. That's what another dealer told me anyway. It would make sense since I was backed off the session after my winnings totaled ~$5600. Another counter was called down by surveillance, giving us his name from a card he signed up for years ago, but he still played the rest of the night and the night after problem problem-free.

Additionally, Fortune Bay is the only casino listed that offers a poker room. The rake at fortune bay is aggregious at 10% capped at $4 with an additional $2 taken for the player pool. Playing during the mystery high hand ($50-$500 prize) is definitely worth. The players are some of the softest around calling 10bb raises with 42o preflop. Some players/staff are slightly annoying/rude but everyone is there to gamble and have fun. The tournaments are really bad. The website advertises a 10% rake on all tournament buy-ins which is true. However, all tournaments offer an 'optional' add-on of chips for cheap, usually $20, which you would be silly not to take. The rake on this add-on is 100% So for a $100 + $20 add-on tournament, the rake is a disgusting 25%. To make things worse, the splashy cash game players tighten tremendously making for tougher player pools. Stick to cash games during high hand hours.

Black Bear: The place is undergoing renovation, moving pits and slots. My last trip there management (I actually don't know who the guy was) requested to see my ID... at the table. My hand was stamped when I came through the door and this man wasn't security. After a small scene I forked it over after my options were to leave, hand it over, or the cops were gonna be called. They even asked for my dad's ID who was off playing slots somewhere. We were playing unrated but we are registered for cards, so I'm sure they have our info. Weeks later and no mention by word or mail of a backoff or anything. Besides that weird encounter, playing conditions are the same. I'm not going back anytime soon
Kloos366
Kloos366
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March 6th, 2024 at 7:29:56 PM permalink
I live in Minnesota, but more in the Metro area, what are the limits on that poker game in fortune bay, as you know Minnesota doesn't have no limit which really sucks, played at Canterbury and running aces the 2 100 spread, except the players are really tight except on the weekends and early morning hours past the next day you know what I mean. I feel like these players in Minnesota are decent but there are quite a few good spots. Canterbury park is probably a good place in Minnesota except for it's probably far from you.
richodude
richodude
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March 6th, 2024 at 7:57:27 PM permalink
Quote: Kloos366

I live in Minnesota, but more in the Metro area, what are the limits on that poker game in fortune bay, as you know Minnesota doesn't have no limit which really sucks, played at Canterbury and running aces the 2 100 spread, except the players are really tight except on the weekends and early morning hours past the next day you know what I mean. I feel like these players in Minnesota are decent but there are quite a few good spots. Canterbury park is probably a good place in Minnesota except for it's probably far from you.
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currently, they are playing exclusively 2-100 hold'em with 1 table and sometimes 2 on a Saturday non-tournament day if there's enough people. Hours are 4p-2a Thursday and Friday and noon-2a on Saturday. You might have a tough time getting a seat middle of the day Saturday. cash stops until ~7p on tournament days. games take about about an hour to get going normally or usually right away if the high hand promotion is going on. Like I said I highly recommend showing up at noon on Saturday if you do plan on playing. Lots of regs with deep pockets

I've heard rumor that NLH can be played with some loopholes. Offering a cash game as a freezeout tournament that you can quit anytime. You play with tournament chips and can redeem them for cash. Instead of raking the pots they charge $20/hr for a seat which is way too high for me. I'd play for $15/hr and ideally something closer to $10-$12. This is all rumor but I don't hear much interest about it.

I hear poker at Canterbury is tough with 1/2 being not as bad. I hope to make a cities trip some day but I work every weekend
Kloos366
Kloos366
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March 6th, 2024 at 8:19:52 PM permalink
Yeah that loophole is true, at Canterbury they make you pay 35 dollars then you can play 300 dollar survival or 500 which is like no limit but I believe you have to stay for a certain time. I'm going to show up to see what happens. I can count cards but I still haven't mastered the emotional discipline on when it's just not going well even with an advantage my stop loss needs a lot more adjusting

Oh yeah they have 5 100 Omaha at running aces and Canterbury which I felt was the most spewy/soft, people calling with anything and there were some people that didn't even know how to play fully. More straight gambling instead of those snipers and tightwads that seem to be in MN.
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