Llew
Llew
Joined: Sep 12, 2011
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September 13th, 2011 at 2:29:01 AM permalink
Hi everyone,

I'm going to be spending a few days in Vegas next month and was hoping for some advice on where and how to play.

I've never played real blackjack before, but over the last few days I've gone through a crash course (mostly the guides and forums on this site) and have memorized and practiced basic strategy and even a bit of counting, though only a couple of the simplest systems.

Since I am staying at the Encore, I was leaning towards playing there. According to this site's survey, they have tables with a 0.28 edge - S17 6D S $25-$100 min - which is as good as most on the Strip.

However, there are a few other factors that are important, since it's a vacation and I want to have fun:
- Comps: not because I'm trying to game the system, but because it's fun to get "free" stuff and it's part of the Las Vegas
- Atmosphere: I mean this in the literal sense, because cigarette smoke annoys me, but also the figurative - a place where I can enjoy myself without having to play at a rip-off table
- Security: I don't want to have the feeling that suspicious casino personnel are tracking my every bet and waiting to accost me, so a place (and a play style) where I could blend in would be nice
FinsRule
FinsRule
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September 13th, 2011 at 3:40:38 AM permalink
I think you answered your own question. You're staying there, and they have a good game, so play there. Your comps will go right off your bill as long as you tell them at checkout.

If you like it there, you'll probably get free rooms on your next stay. I guess it would be good to have a backup place to go if you don't like Encore. Others can help there - I don't play BJ much, and definitely not $25-$100 BJ.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
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September 13th, 2011 at 4:19:31 AM permalink
Quote: Llew

Since I am staying at the Encore, I was leaning towards playing there.

Good. Its as good a place to play as any, its going to be the most convenient for you and its a nice high-class joint. There are advantages to having a room nearby otherwise a sugar-jag after a buffet can prove expensive if you are gambling when you should be resting.

> According to this site's survey, they have tables with a 0.28 edge
Often the best edge is only in the high limit room but whatever edge you play at, if its your first time you will be making mistakes and thus increasing that house edge. Don't worry about it. You will find a casino atmosphere more distracting than what you experienced in your practice sessions. Don't worry about it. Its your first trip. Enjoy it.

>since it's a vacation and I want to have fun:
Thats the goal so its good to keep that in mind.

> Comps: not because I'm trying to game the system, but because it's fun to get "free" stuff and it's part of the Las Vegas
Yes. Comps are part of the game in this town. You can get trinkets for just opening an account just about anywhere. Indeed, if you go casino hopping be sure to open a new players card account everywhere you go. You will usually get some sort of five dollar free play and a buffet or something. Check the websites of casino you think might appeal to you or be geographically convenient to you.
One advantage of this Play Where You Stay option is that a room comp is real nice to have. And becoming RFB at the Encore may be more than at other casinos but if you are staying at the Encore, then thats the place where you want to give it a try. Running around town for free keychains or free souvenir dice has always seemed foolish to me, but some places offer some decent deals for a new players account even if its only a half-priced buffet and some free slot play.

>Atmosphere: I mean this in the literal sense, because cigarette smoke annoys me,
Well some joints will require you to use a gas mask. Jokers Wild and Club Fortune in Henderson offer one dollar craps tables but it most surely would be a gas-mask required place for you if you decide to go slumming. Casino Royale on the Strip is a bit smokey too but fun for the buck a beer crowd, but if you go there your visit will have to be a short one and you will probably want to go outside and walk in the air for awhile to air out your clothes.

> but also the figurative - a place where I can enjoy myself without having to play at a rip-off table
Well, the Flamingo is a great place to visit but it is indeed full of cheap hookers and rip-off 6:5 tables with side bets. You might want to see it but you really won't enjoy playing there. The Strat offers a pretty good bargain to the low roller crowd, but its isolated and offers nothing special for you at all. Its going to be a trip for you to get to the M resort but it would be a fine place to experience and to play there. Great food, great booze, great waitresses. Its an atmosphere where your style of play will be just fine.

>I don't want to have the feeling that suspicious casino personnel are tracking my every bet and waiting to accost me,
Stay away from Southpoint and Ellis Island and you should be fine. Everyone IS watching you, no matter where you go. That is their job. The top tier places are the nicest atmospheres, but they do watch you. That is what a floor man is paid to do. They will be polite about it just about everywhere. They will be very polite about it at the best places. They will be very rude about it at the worst places, but that is their job: to watch you. You start increasing your bets at even a minimum table at Southpoint and they are going to open their yaps at you. You start doing it at The Encore and you will get much, much more latitude. They may or may not notice it at the Encore, but they won't say anything to you about it there. At Southpoint they will watch a minimum game closely. At the Encore they might not be paying attention at all, or atleast it won't be so obvious. The Encore is not some Sweat The Money joint.
That doesn't mean they are blind, that doesn't mean they are not watching, it just means that its a high class joint and they are not obsessed about would-be card counters.
s2dbaker
s2dbaker
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September 13th, 2011 at 6:07:02 AM permalink
When Steve Wynn owned the Bellagio, I found that comps were easy to get. I haven't tried to get anything at Wynn or Encore.
Someday, joor goin' to see the name of Googie Gomez in lights and joor goin' to say to joorself, "Was that her?" and then joor goin' to answer to joorself, "That was her!" But you know somethin' mister? I was always her yuss nobody knows it! - Googie Gomez
Llew
Llew
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September 13th, 2011 at 7:40:34 AM permalink
Thanks for the detailed response! It sounds like I'll be doing the bulk of my real playing at my hotel, then, although I'll probably visit a few other casinos just for kicks. i already got some Hash House (Imperial Palace) vouchers based on a friend's recommendation, plus I'm going to shows at the Mirage and the MGM Grand.
benbakdoff
benbakdoff
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September 13th, 2011 at 8:47:53 AM permalink
By all means play,wine and dine at the Encore. Green to black will get you noticed. Charge everything to your room and I mean everything even a candy bar. Speak with a host before you check out to have your action reviewed.

Your bets will be tracked because the chips at the Encore and the Wynn have RFID tags. Don't worry you'll have to do something really outrageous to be confronted. On the other hand, you'll get full credit for all your bets. That's what the casino told me and I believe everything they say!
ItsCalledSoccer
ItsCalledSoccer
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September 13th, 2011 at 10:04:18 AM permalink
Quote: Llew

Thanks for the detailed response! It sounds like I'll be doing the bulk of my real playing at my hotel, then, although I'll probably visit a few other casinos just for kicks. i already got some Hash House (Imperial Palace) vouchers based on a friend's recommendation, plus I'm going to shows at the Mirage and the MGM Grand.



Sound fun! You might be mindful of travel times and costs to those places from Encore. I think Imperial Palace is over a mile's walk and cabs can be both very long to get and very long on the trip depending on the time of day and day of the week.

Personally, my preference is to rent a car, but not a lot of folks share that. There are definitely other ways.
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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September 13th, 2011 at 10:41:43 AM permalink
If you have never played a live game before, I might recommend starting at a lower minimum than $25. You will make mistakes, and it is better that they only cost you $5, $10 or $15 instead of $25 or $50.

Encore is actually not that close to anything. Although the walk to the Venetian next door, or TI across the Strip is a trek, it might be worth the walk to TI to break in your game at a lower minimum.

High ceilings, and heavy duty air handling at the newer Strip properties really help with the smoke, but will not eliminate it. You'll know as soon as you walk in the door what kind of air quality you're dealing with. Remember that there are lot's of options, so don't be afraid to take your business elsewhere.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
boymimbo
boymimbo
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September 13th, 2011 at 11:13:04 AM permalink
Llew:

This is your first time gambling for real, so I recommend that you don't go with the goal of counting or with winning, but of having a good time and seeing the sites.

If you're spending a few days in Vegas, playing at a .28% BJ table at $25 vs a .66% BJ table at $10 won't make a difference. You won't be counting properly - you'll be too distracted by free drinks, good looking women (or men) and the atmosphere. So i would forget the count this time. Stick to basic strategy and if you're in the mood for a counting system with a minimal spread, go for it.

Comps: if you are staying and playing at WynnCore, use your red card (which is also your room key) and charge everything to the card. You will have to find a host at the end of your stay and make sure that they take off whatever they can. We spent about 3 nights there a couple of years back and got about $120 in food comped and we were $10 players. At $25 action, expect all of your food for free and perhaps even a room night (depending on how you booked the room -- if you book it through a 3rd party agency they can't comp you).

Atmosphere: in a pure sense, the entire strip is a ripoff compared to what you would find downtown or at the outlying casinos (like Red Rock), but if you want to play where the atmosphere is nice and you feel secure, any of the upscale strip properties (Wynn/Encore, Bellagio, Venetian, Mandalay Bay, MGM, Paris) will do. They have very good ventilation and masking. But if you sit at a table with a smoker, there's pretty much nothing else you can do but move away.

Security: You're talking about sweating the money. Since this is your first gambling excursion, I would serious think about just having a good time and using your strategy card. You can probably get away with a simple count and a 1-4x spread, but if you get outside of that, no matter where you are, you have a good chance of getting backed off. You don't want that. And because you're there for the first time, you won't recognize the warning signs that you're being tracked.

My two cents.
----- You want the truth! You can't handle the truth!
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
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September 13th, 2011 at 11:32:50 AM permalink
Quote: ItsCalledSoccer

Sound fun! You might be mindful of travel times and costs to those places from Encore. I think Imperial Palace is over a mile's walk and cabs can be both very long to get and very long on the trip depending on the time of day and day of the week.


Yes, its a trek and when he gets there he will be disappointed in the IP, but its his first trip to Vegas. He will want to wander about a bit and explore. See sights, see some really great casinos, see some really low-life dumps, see this, see that.

I second that "charge everything, even a candybar". Also be sure to let a little time go by so that all your play is in their computers before you drop by a host and have a chat.

If smoking gets to be a real problem for you, there is always that M Resort about ten miles south. Absolutely the best air handling equipment and computerized monitoring system in Vegas. Adds the smallest droplets of Mediterranean Fig Oil into the air. Its new and its fresh air. If smoke at the M bothers you then you are truly out of luck for there is nowhere else to go.

For all those "shows" ... get there early and do the players club card stuff. Sample the casino. Walk around. See what its like. A few minutes with various dealers. A variety of games just to pass the time and get a feel for the place. Then go to the show. You don't have to spend all that much money. I agree that the bulk of your play will be at the Encore. Its a nice place and offers potential for rewards.

The "first trip" should be a sample so that you can say "I've been to Vegas" rather than "I've been to The Encore".

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