LostWages
LostWages
Joined: May 6, 2013
  • Threads: 38
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October 28th, 2016 at 11:59:44 AM permalink
Here's the "Initiation of LostWages" to his FIRST live BJ game. Sorry, only managed two pictures of my VP wins - I was too nervous to sneak a photo on the BJ tables. But if it's pictures you enjoy, wait for my upcoming TR, "Galloping Gourmet", visiting some delicious food places! On 10/4/2016 at the Cal, without my wife, I played BJ with 2 consecutive dealers, 20 min/shift. Conditions: DD 3:2 BJ, dealer hits on S17, no SURR, no DAS, no RSA, machine shuffled, but not a CSM. The pace of this game (my very first) seemed quite fast for me, est 20-25 hands per 20-min shift, full tables of 4 or 5 players. Time was around 10:30 am, perfect! Overall noise level still reasonably quiet when I left about 40 min later.

OUTCOME: for $100 buy-in (sweated through 2 dealers), I won $65 <small round of applause 🤗>

My Newbie's observations and short stories follow, with my post-experience questions and comments at the end. I truly thank everyone helping me enjoy one of the best experiences I've had in a long while, and I welcome all your comments on any parts of my long posting!! It was great to be back in Las Vegas after more than 10 years! I did not take insurance, ignored side bets, and especially blinded myself to THE ONE "nasty" player on my right who was out to get me. I also opted not to drink alcohol at the table and recommend newbies don't drink either, but do stay hydrated with water! My mouth was parched the whole time, but probably due to nervousness. That's just me.

1. Penetration. OK, I know I don't count yet, but this is what I observed: 3 of the 5 dealers today cut 50-55%. The other 2 dealers were more card-counter "friendly" and the cut seemed to me slightly more favorable, at least 55-65%.
2. BJ Round #1. After my 40-min initiation with 2 dealers, I was tempted to play a 3rd dealer for another 20 min to make a full hour for my FIRST BJ experience. (I bet I would have lost my $65 win and then some!). However, the player to my right (losing on most of his doubles on what I considered non-BS) started to make snide remarks and "stink face" on all my plays, esp as I was winning. Since I am assertive- challenged, I chose the deaf ear approach and continued my "incorrect hits/stands" to make my chip pile tower over his! Tks everyone for your collective tips on "when to leave the table". I was so relieved to leave the table after my last win of a double down.
3. "Tip got tooked!" As I got ready to leave, I placed one last $5 bet in my circle, and told the dealer "This extra toke is a bet for you, then color me up", and placed that toke OUTSIDE and in front of my circle. However, either I wasn't as clear as I thought I was, or the dealer was just fast and possibly greedy, but she just grabbed the toke and said "Tokes for the dealer" and colored me up. This is the first time I touched a $100 chip! I didn't know any better about the miscommunication, so I left before I wet my pants with my $65 win.
4. I believe I left at the right time, as it was 65% of my buy-in. Forum posters say a 30-40% winning, or a short play of 30-45 min, is a good time to leave or take a break.
5. Bonus reward: I knew I only flat betted for my $100 buy-in, but with my biggest and warmest Hawaiian smile, I apologetically and politely asked the Pit Boss if she might comp me a little something for my first table experience. "Uncle <favorite Hawaiian salutation of respect/endearment>, lessee what can get fo' you!" <love dat pidgin>. Card insert, click-click-click, "Here, hon, go lunchnow!" And handed me a $15 credit coupon! Stupendous! My average bet was $5 for only 40 min of play. I didn't even deserve $1.25, the theoretical 25% of an avg $5 bet for an hour! I guess the computer showed I was "new" and not an undesirable.
6. Deuces Wild VP ($0.25 max credits or $1.25/deal) was my break and decompression time from my FIRST BJ experience. My wife wanted a quick tutoring in VP, and after 15 min or so, she enjoyed beginner's luck (?) and won $14.75 and stopped. She watched me play, and could not immediately grasp the concept of why I nurtured a Wild Royal Flush for 125 points (no guarantee) when a PAT straight was ALREADY guaranteed for 10 credits. I had AKJ2-10, where 10 was the unsuited card. After I showed her the pay table, she said she doesn't look at the pay table because there are too many numbers that clog her brain. So I tried to explain that all I needed was any of 3 remaining deuces OR the missing suited 10 OR missing suited Q for a Wild Royal Flush (a little better than 10% chance to get 125 credits); or, ANY 10 or Q and I could still win from a straight (21% chance to get 10 credits). [Stats folks: did I get those probabilities right?] When a deuce showed, I got my Wild Royal Flush and cashed out with just under $50 in my favor. At the Cal, I noticed max bet payoff for Wild Royal Flush was 125 and full house/flush was 20/15; at the Fremont, the payouts were less generous at 100 and 15/10, respectively. Why would 2 Boyd hotels have different payouts? VP gang, would anyone have some ideas about that?
7. BJ Round #2. I fully realize my Round #1 was partly (mostly?) beginner's luck, so my expectations were low. But another surprise awaited me: with my initial buy-in of $100, I managed to stretch my stay through 3 dealers - a full hour of relatively fast play (for me). This time I had very pleasant seat mates, on my right a $50-$100 bettor, and a $20-$40 bettor on my left. However, my low expectations could not slow down my excitement, and I found myself making newbie errors. For example, hitting vs standing on dealer's 2-6 vs my 12-16; miscounting a 19 and hitting to bust (I had at least 4 hands I just couldn't add when I got hit 5 times - brain freeze and adrenalin).
8. "Tip toke WON!" This time, I decided to be even more deliberate with my intentions. I could see the dealer was about to make last deal, and the replacement dealer had entered the area for shift change and tapped the table once (signal that "It's time for you to leave"?). I said "This is my last bet, so pls color me up afterwards." After a short pause, I clearly said, "I'd like to place this bet for you, shall we win together?" and put the toke right outside my circle facing the dealer. Fellow players gave a small handclap and words of "good play!", as I ended the evening with BJ for me AND dealer. My $100 buy-in left me with $17! 😄
9. Social interaction at 2 games: very poor, but listening to the suave ("other kind" of BS) talkers, I'm building up a usable vocabulary. I made an effort to make 10 comments at 1st game, and doubled down to 20 comments in 2nd game! That's how I found out that Cal dealers deal in 20 min shifts. I kinda like to watch them hand shuffle, and I noticed some dealers have superior aim when they pitch, others are less precise. Some dealers are robotic cold fish (I dislike those), and some have low level, intermittent small banter (I like those). Some are really adept at quick comebacks to any player's side comments, others have the non-stop "Duh" look.
10. BJ Round #3: Took the opportunity to play 3 consecutive hours because my wife and I came at quiet time, 11:45 - 14:45. Lost all 3 buy-ins of $100, but I credit BS helping me make sessions last pretty long (1 hr each buy-in session). This time, dealers were on 60-min shifts on shuffle machine tables (not CSM) , the same BJ conditions previously described. New experiences to share: a) Counting. This time I was much less tense, and I managed to count just SMALL cards the first few rounds. When I got a count of 5, I increased my bets to $15 and got rewarded 2 out of 3 times. When high card count reached 5, I reverted to $5 play. OK, I know that's not real card counting, but it's the best I could manage on my first outing. It REALLY made a difference that I got to go head-to/head (my secret wish!) for 50 min, till a (ploppy?) came at last 10 min. I'm still in "isolation" mode, and enjoyed the privacy of head-to-head play. b) Social. With less tension, my interaction skills went up from 20 to 30 to 40 words/comments per 60-min shift. One dealer was from Thailand, so I engaged in Thai pidgin, which gave her a kick. Next dealer was Filipino, so my Tagalog rattled out of me. These 2 dealers gave me at least 65-70% pen. c) BS execution. Again, less tension allowed me better concentration. I still made some addition errors, but way less than yesterday. So I am in progress of creating my comfort zone, and finding the tweaks that worked for me. As a beginner, I think I'd need to just FB and play BS until it gets "boring" or automatic - then I would have a stronger mindset to do "real" card counting. Would appreciate your comments - I have at least a year to prepare before our next trip! d) Seat partners. Today I was rewarded with the company of a most enjoyable and sharp player. He sat on my wife's left, and she was enthralled with his presence. Non-stop pleasant chatter for 60 min. He was up a couple hundred when we left. If he's using BS and card counting, it is well disguised as far as I can tell. He had something upbeat to say for his wins, losses, the time of day, weather report, you name it. Never a nasty word left his mouth. I would say every single dealer, Pit Boss, and cocktail waitress, and even passers-by knew him on sight. Jump to Round#5 for an unbelievable ending. I mean, like TOTALLY fairytale.
11. BJ Round #4. Same BJ conditions, early am, 2 pleasant elderly ladies playing $40-$50/hand, and occasionally $100! Ouch! Money bags! More relaxed now, I can count small cards without distraction, and I could count 4 to 5 cards in my own hand without getting too flustered. Mostly flatbetted, but if small card count went to 5, I bet $10. Though I won many times with my increased bets, I ended up even.
12. BJ Round #5. We'll remember our last plays on our 4th and final day for years to come! We reconnected with "Henry", the great BJ player mentioned in Round #4. I played just 15 min BJ with my wife, but already agreed to split ways so I could play Ultimate X (multi-row VP with multiplier bonuses). H is the tallest 5' 3" man I've met in my life. I think he can go toe to toe with anyone under any circumstance. Yet he is not intimidating. His personality is so glowing, he could light up the Cal's casino with nothing but his presence. Henry was delighted to take my seat, so off I went to VP UX. I think I figured out the way to play, using VP basic strategy but checking variation of 3-line play outcomes. Without the multiplier effect, I would not select 3 of a kind over a PAT straight. But if the Multiplier offered, say, 7x-4x-2x on rows 1 to 3, then that's a "PAT" 12x10 credits vs taking a chance with 3 of a kind (5 credits) on rows 1 to 3 that might remain as is for only 15 credits. Maybe this is not the best approach, so I would appreciate hearing back from Dieter or other UX enthusiasts (no rush, we probably won't return for a year or two). I'm curious about the proper strategy to take. After an hour, I was only $11.50 ahead, so I thought I should return to the BJ tables. Before returning, I went to the PB to see if I had any comps earned (yeah, dream on). He said no, but if I still wanted 2 free cards (decks), he could arrange that. My eyes bulged when he opened the cabinet and slid out TWO BOXES of cards (2 dozen total). My wife said "no way, Jose" - just take maybe 4 decks (and that's what I did. Whoa! My wife was up close to $125 in her non-BS BJ play (hmmmm!!). And Henry, bless his heart, was just having a whale of a time sharing his stories, but he looked peaked. So he looked at me to ask for a favor, and if I wouldn't mind helping him - I figured he needed a walk back to his room or something. But he explained that since he's legally blind (now I know why he stares a lot), he is unable to play and enjoy any slot machines, much less VP. "Would you mind playing my bonus credits? I can't cash it out, and they won't transfer the credits to my BJ table. Don't worry, I already told your wife about this." Giddy with excitement, I said I'd be honored! "OK, I'll wait for you so you can return my card. Here's my PIN# . . . " Talk about trust. So off I went back to my UX corner. I've never had a "bonus" card, so it took me a moment to figure out I had to press "Promo" to get prompted for his PIN#. Good thing they don't have image access control, because the next message was "Welcome, back Henry! Enjoy your $50 bonus!" Gulp . . . After 15 min, I was still only $5 up on $0.10 play (3 rows X max of $0.50/row = $1.50/game). My wife was concerned that it was time for Henry to call it a night, so to speed play, I upped it to $0.25 play (3 rows X max of $1.25/row = $3.75/game). I hit some more Wild Royal Flushes with multipliers and in 10 min, I doubled Henry's $50 to $150.
13. What a fairy tale ending! Now I could return a favor and give Henry his $50 cash to play BJ (like he needed it, huh?). It was the honorable thing to do. Alas, we could not find Henry after walking around to all the BJ tables. I figured the Pit Boss would know Henry. . . sure enough, as I approached him (PB), he said "You folks looking for Henry? He left a while ago . . . " I explained Henry left his card with me, and the PB said not to worry, he would give it to Henry tomorrow - even the dealers on the left and right said, "Yeah, Henry left, but we'll tell him you did come back to return his card". It was disappointing not to give Henry his $50 I converted, but maybe it was not meant to be. Then I went to the BConnected Desk and asked the Casino Hostess if she could modify my coupon from Day 1. I explained to her I was so excited, I forgot to use the $15 within 24 hours. She asked if I was alone, and I said I'm here with my wife. "OK, I'll re-write your coupon for $30, but this time, don't forget, ok?" (We used it for snacks and breakfast). That's my fairy tale ending to our 4-days in downtown Las Vegas!
14. Airport Casino in pre-boarding lounge. 10 years ago, I blew $100 on all kinds of VP - sure didn't know DW from JoB or Double-Double Bonus whatevers. Airport Payouts were the same as the Cal, which was the. primary reason I even bothered trying. Today, on a $20 session, max credits $0.25, picture says 4500 thoughts ($45 win). I played another $10 to test if payouts/machine was really loose. My conclusion is yes, based on the fact I lasted 30 min, and got four of a kind 9 times, and missed 2 more WRFs! But no, . . . no more wins, maybe just beginner's luck (again?). Anyway, what a way to end our 4-day Las Vegas journey. A Wild Royal Flush!






1. Post-experience questions/comments

a. Basic Strategy. Yes, I did memorize it, and I could correctly fill in blank BS sheets all day. Today, recalling what I memorized in a quiet room playing on a BJ trainer on an iPad (with NO distractions) did not prepare me for retrieving the same info in an active room filled with people, slot machine noises, fast games (for me it seemed fast), a nasty player making comments on your every play, and the adrenaline run on your first game with successive wins! So I did make errors because I couldn't count or make the right play on every deal.

b. Card Counting. On my first BJ outing, I could not concentrate on counting small or big cards, as I was too intensely into the game, minding my etiquette, keeping up with the flow of play (again, for me it was fast), and trying to add up when I asked for a hit 4 times in a row. Aaaargh! Calculator, please! To prepare for future trips, I have card counting trainers on my iPad, and now a real deck of (used) cards from the Cal. I certainly welcome suggestions.

c. Table Etiquette. 😇 I was an angel, and did not receive any reprimands from any of my 10 dealers! Held cards with only one hand, always had bet ready, made correct card signals or movements, placed double down bet to side of orig bet, deftly slid my cards under bet if I wanted to stand, etc.

d. Card counters. I was so tempted to mimic the bets (at least increasing my own a little bit) of the player on my right. His spread appeared to be $25-$200 (would that be a 1-8 spread?). However, his winning was not consistent when he ramped up. (Is that what you call riding the variance wave?) So I just FB'd all the way. Also, I was still too tense keeping up with the play.

e. Machine BJ. Of course, I still ignored insurance. I played on $20 session of $0.25 games, but it seemed like "dealer" was always winning by just 1 card. Hey, simulators! Is it possible that the game designer has the program set to <dealer's points = player's points + 1> say every 6 to 10 hands? Anyway, I just had to see if I was missing something. What was missing on this multi-game IGT machine: no button to split and double down; better payout (only pays 1:1 on blackjack). I could be wrong, but the 2 conditions scream "Don't play this version of machine blackjack." Maybe there are better BJ machines? VP DEUCES ARE WILD is still my game. I got my 2nd Wild Royal Flush at Caesar's Palace while waiting to see the Celine Dion show.

f. Ultimate X. One poster, Dieter (THANKS again!), suggested this might be interesting. It certainly was! 3 Downtown casinos never heard of it, 2 said maybe on the Strip. No biggie, just curious. The WOV posted info UX info in 2009, so yeah, it's NOT a new game: http://wizardofodds.com/games/video-poker/tables/ultimate-x/.
I guess this is what you call multiple hand VP with a kicker, if I understand the game correctly. During your normal play, if you win a row, you get assigned pre-determined multipliers to match your win, and those multipliers increase your winnings up to 12 times on a full house. Question for simulators/stats folk: How come Ultimate X uses best multiplier of 12x on a Full House? Is there a reason for that? UX is at the Cal (found 3 slants) by the Holo Holo Bar. Even if I lost (hint at upcoming story), it was so enjoyable to play a squeaky clean machine, ALL buttons working, and shiny clean sides with non-glare glass, and no lines to squeeze in. Didn't seem to attract too many patrons, whether I came early, mid-day, or at peak evening hours. I was lucky to meet a fellow Hawaiian who knew his VP! He was attending 40th High School reunion with his wife (another good player), and I guesstimated his age range at 65-75. After watching me card in and insert a session play, he must have seen me sweating bullets trying to figure out the game rules (I've not previously played multi-row VP or any game). "Eh, you like me show you?" How good was his explanation? Let the picture tell the story for my FIRST $20 session. Later on, there's an even more delightful ending to my LAST experience playing Ultimate X (yeah, still Deuces Are Wild VP, with payoff of $125 on Wild Royal, and 25/15 for Full House/Straight.




g. BJ side bets. Don't panic, I did not give in to side bets, insurance, or lucky ladies. However, I don't recall reading a forum posting about the "Pair Square". (I sure wasn't looking, though). A couple on 1st and 3rd base on my table added a red chip to the Pair Square EVERY bet. They were up at least 10 black chips JUST on wins from PS. So, yes, I'm just curious if someone knows the odds? (Yes, I'll search the forum later). The Cal pays 10:1 on any pair, and 25:1 on a suited pair. Reminder: I've been playing DD BJ, about 65% pen.

h. BS card. I opted NOT to use it at the table. My 10-dealer experience tells me it would not have helped to have it in a quickly accessible spot. I was too nervous just counting 5 cards in my hand! But maybe a BS card could help other newbies. I had BS down pat, but I did have temporary brain freezes that prevented me adding up totals under 21, would you believe?

I. Playing mode. Unless you have already developed PS (not BS) or Partner Sweetness, I recommend playing by yourself. If you play with a significant other, select separate tables where you can't really interact, i.e., not even back to back. But again, that's just me. Some of you may have superior PS.😘

j. Winnings & losses. I started with 4 session bankrolls of $120 each, where the $20 was NO TOUCH UNLESS NEEDED FOR FINAL SPLIT & DOUBLE-DOWN. After drink tips (only water, refrained from all alcohol), dealer tips (I loved making my last bet with a toke for the dealer so I could say "Let's win my last bet together!"), and with enough small winnings to play VP Deuces Are Wild, I ended up about $150 ahead plus my $30 food coupon. I think my wife had similar results, but no coupon (she dislikes asking for anything, unless the asking is directed at me). I didn't bother asking her because what's hers is hers, and what's mine is hers too <go figure>.

l. BJ first timers: After you have BS down pat, try doing a recall of some cells under different conditions, each condition louder and busier than the last - music and TV on, talking to family or friends, and doing something else that ALSO requires full attention (but don't while driving!), etc. I was NOT prepared for my "first time". Maybe you will be. What kept me going? Quoting Romes, remember that "Playing it correctly means you've already won!!"

I think I won overall! 😅
Eat real food . . . and you won't need medicine (or a lot less!)
odiousgambit
odiousgambit
Joined: Nov 9, 2009
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October 28th, 2016 at 1:06:14 PM permalink
Glad you're having fun, welcome to the site. That is quite a tome you wrote there. I could only make myself skim it. I have one response:

e. Machine BJ ............... playing a game that pays 1:1 on a natural, you can be sure that it is not gaffed. That rule increases the house advantage by an additional 2.27% and there is no need to rob you any more than that. Just say no.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!” She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
OnceDear
Administrator
OnceDear
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October 28th, 2016 at 1:24:41 PM permalink
Yayyy,
Thanks for that and well done sir! That you played the game and enjoyed it is proof that you won.

You demonstrated quite nicely that you can be a low roller and still have a great time. On my only visit to Vegas, wife and self didn't gamble at all till the last day and that was just a few hundred at a low limit table. While I played BS, my wife was pretty much playing pontoon and she still won as much as I lost :o)

Excellent that you had discipline and were still able to get in 5 good session lengths. That's value for money, pure and simple. Asking for and getting some comped food and souvenir cards was nice and proves the adage, "if you don't ask, you don't get".

Also good to hear that you met and interacted with an assortment of characters. It can be funny playing min stakes good BS and keeping your stack of chips while Mr knowitall, grumpy, high roller p133e3 away his big stack of higher value chips, but of course, when it stops being fun, stop.

I never played the game where you handle the cards. Here it's all face up, and I'm never ashamed to ask the dealer to re-count my hand, if he hasn't already announced my count. Sometimes you just have to pause for air when you are playing at 80% of your mental capacity. Those brain freezes do happen and it's often a sign to sit out a few hands. I bet you barely had time to watch out for dealer errors. Wonder if there were any.

Copying the other players ramping would probably be a bad idea. If he was counting, then it might have been perceived that you were in cahoots. Besides, many players, like myself, will vary the bet for no better reason than a bit of fun.

The BJ machines sound a bit crap. They sure can give the impression that they are rigged, but with crap rules and paytable they don't need to be.

The Perfect Pairs bet sounds similar to what you had there. It's popular bet because it can pay big. IIRC the house edge on it is about 6% so best to avoid. It's also addictive like lottery cards, because you will feel aggrieved if you play it once or twice and then don't play it only to experience a glut of pairs.

Unsure if what you did in playing that guy's bonus card was wise. Never experienced that in the UK, but isn't it against house rules over there? My eye's popped when you mentioned returning it via the pit boss !!! I might well be wrong, of course: It may be accepted practice there.

If you want to practice counting and BS, consider looking in on one of the online casino live games. With some you can sit and watch and count (others playing) without even adding credit or playing. Nice and slow but you could do it while watching TV.
Beware. The earth is NOT flat. Hit and run is not a winning strategy: Pressing into trends IS not a winning strategy: Progressives are not a winning strategy: Don't Buy It! .Don't even take it for free.
Greasyjohn
Greasyjohn
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October 28th, 2016 at 1:27:05 PM permalink
Read some of your post LW, and I like your enthusiasm. When I have more time I'll read more.
Romes
Romes
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October 28th, 2016 at 1:30:17 PM permalink
LostWages, EXCELLENT report =). Sounds like you had a blast, which was priority #1... and it doesn't hurt that you took 'em for a little money too! Congrats on the great trip.

To address a couple of your questions/comments/etc:

1) Pair Square isn't a very good side bet, and the wizard analyzed it in his side bets: http://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/appendix/8/
If you saw them "up" from it then that's just variance where they happen to hit it a few times. Check back in a couple hours and I'll make a bet with you they're down if they're playing it every hand ;-). You correctly stayed away from side bets.

2) Great job on the comp for your first session! You learned a very important lesson... It never hurts to ask! You'd be surprised what you can get if you're generally a nice person and pleasant to be around. Sometimes you'll get comped when you really shouldn't just because you're making their day/environment better. Not only that, if they don't comp you then you're in the same place you were before asking, so it never hurts to ask!

3) The first dealer probably understood 100% you wanted to play for them... But downtown $5 toke is a decent little toke (especially for a $5 player) so he probably just wanted to drop it in the box instead of playing it on a hand.

4) Remember, whether you're playing basic strategy, or even counting, you're going to see wild swings of variance in blackjack. You can play PERFECT basic strategy and your EV might only be -$10 for the night, but you could lose $500. That being said, you could get 'lucky' and win a few hundred too! I'm glad you ended on the good side of variance on this trip. As for the 'counter' you suspected playing a 1-8 spread next to you, be careful with that. If they don't know how to count well, then you could be making larger bets when you shouldn't be (oh no). It's best to just stick to your game, and when you're ready to implement counting I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job at it as you're quite detail oriented. Even if he was counting, and properly, counters don't always win in monster counts. See my articles for a more detailed explanation of why counting works and where the money really comes from (not just from "winning" in big counts). So he could have been doing everything right and just having a bad run of variance (luck). In the end there's no way for you to know unless you were also counting and could tell he was doing everything right/wrong.

I'm again really glad you had a fun and strong first blackjack outing! You probably came out the gates with your Basic Strategy and you're a better player than most out there just with that =P. Do remember that in 'the long run' basic strategy will be a loser, with a $5 avg bet your -EV is so small that drinking and having fun can more than be worth it =). I'm glad you had an experience that hopefully you'll remember for a long time! Now keep practicing and next time you head there perhaps you'll know you have the edge up on them =D. Great report and well done!
Playing it correctly means you've already won.
LostWages
LostWages
Joined: May 6, 2013
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October 28th, 2016 at 5:06:44 PM permalink
Quote: odiousgambit

Glad you're having fun, welcome to the site. That is quite a tome you wrote there. I could only make myself skim it. I have one response:

e. Machine BJ ............... playing a game that pays 1:1 on a natural, you can be sure that it is not gaffed. That rule increases the house advantage by an additional 2.27% and there is no need to rob you any more than that. Just say no.



OG - thanks for confirming my suspicions! NO to BJ machines or any game paying 1:1 on a natural!
Eat real food . . . and you won't need medicine (or a lot less!)
LostWages
LostWages
Joined: May 6, 2013
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October 28th, 2016 at 5:28:50 PM permalink
Quote: OnceDear

Yayyy,
Thanks for that and well done sir! That you played the game and enjoyed it is proof that you won.

You demonstrated quite nicely that you can be a low roller and still have a great time. On my only visit to Vegas, wife and self didn't gamble at all till the last day and that was just a few hundred at a low limit table. While I played BS, my wife was pretty much playing pontoon and she still won as much as I lost :o)

Excellent that you had discipline and were still able to get in 5 good session lengths. That's value for money, pure and simple. Asking for and getting some comped food and souvenir cards was nice and proves the adage, "if you don't ask, you don't get".

Also good to hear that you met and interacted with an assortment of characters. It can be funny playing min stakes good BS and keeping your stack of chips while Mr knowitall, grumpy, high roller p133e3 away his big stack of higher value chips, but of course, when it stops being fun, stop.

I never played the game where you handle the cards. Here it's all face up, and I'm never ashamed to ask the dealer to re-count my hand, if he hasn't already announced my count. Sometimes you just have to pause for air when you are playing at 80% of your mental capacity. Those brain freezes do happen and it's often a sign to sit out a few hands. I bet you barely had time to watch out for dealer errors. Wonder if there were any.

Copying the other players ramping would probably be a bad idea. If he was counting, then it might have been perceived that you were in cahoots. Besides, many players, like myself, will vary the bet for no better reason than a bit of fun.

The BJ machines sound a bit crap. They sure can give the impression that they are rigged, but with crap rules and paytable they don't need to be.

The Perfect Pairs bet sounds similar to what you had there. It's popular bet because it can pay big. IIRC the house edge on it is about 6% so best to avoid. It's also addictive like lottery cards, because you will feel aggrieved if you play it once or twice and then don't play it only to experience a glut of pairs.

Unsure if what you did in playing that guy's bonus card was wise. Never experienced that in the UK, but isn't it against house rules over there? My eye's popped when you mentioned returning it via the pit boss !!! I might well be wrong, of course: It may be accepted practice there.

If you want to practice counting and BS, consider looking in on one of the online casino live games. With some you can sit and watch and count (others playing) without even adding credit or playing. Nice and slow but you could do it while watching TV.



OD - Good to hear from you! I'm glad that my experience was close to prediction #3, and actually lasted 4 days! This is what you told me just before I left for my Las Vegas trip:

"One of three things will happen on your first session, each with roughly equal probability:-

1. You will crash and burn and lose your $150 or so bankroll in less than an hour ( Maybe within minutes ) Walk away and don't dump your week's bankroll. Don't chase a loss.
2. You will double or more your $150 bankroll in less than an hour ( Maybe within minutes ). Walk away or just play out your profit for fun.
3. You will pretty much hold your own, bobbing between $25 and $250 for maybe an hour or so. Enjoy it. This is best case scenario."

I'm doing a recap to prepare for next year's trip! Thanks for confirming my thoughts about copying other's ramping (all newbies, beware!), staying away from BJ machines (unless the WoV or other posters have made some recommendations), how much time I have now to practice real card counting (like watching some online players - didn't know you could do that), playing with another's bonus card (it's possible the Cal would make an exception for a well-know player like Henry and his legally blind status, but I now recognize your point about being discrete), remembering that Perfect Pairs has a 6% HE (newbies: stay AWAY from all side bets), take a BREAK after 30-45 minutes if it's your first time, DON'T BE AFRAID to ask Pit Boss for comps, bring with you a degree of discipline (and don't drink on your first BJ outing) and yes, NEWBIES: it is possible for low-rollers to have fun and flatbet $5 until you've reached a "boring" point using BS and not card counting yet!

Thanks so much for your lively enthusiasm, OD!
Eat real food . . . and you won't need medicine (or a lot less!)
LostWages
LostWages
Joined: May 6, 2013
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October 28th, 2016 at 5:54:29 PM permalink
Quote: Romes

LostWages, EXCELLENT report =). Sounds like you had a blast, which was priority #1... and it doesn't hurt that you took 'em for a little money too! Congrats on the great trip.

To address a couple of your questions/comments/etc:

1) Pair Square isn't a very good side bet, and the wizard analyzed it in his side bets: http://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/appendix/8/
If you saw them "up" from it then that's just variance where they happen to hit it a few times. Check back in a couple hours and I'll make a bet with you they're down if they're playing it every hand ;-). You correctly stayed away from side bets.

2) Great job on the comp for your first session! You learned a very important lesson... It never hurts to ask! You'd be surprised what you can get if you're generally a nice person and pleasant to be around. Sometimes you'll get comped when you really shouldn't just because you're making their day/environment better. Not only that, if they don't comp you then you're in the same place you were before asking, so it never hurts to ask!

3) The first dealer probably understood 100% you wanted to play for them... But downtown $5 toke is a decent little toke (especially for a $5 player) so he probably just wanted to drop it in the box instead of playing it on a hand.

4) Remember, whether you're playing basic strategy, or even counting, you're going to see wild swings of variance in blackjack. You can play PERFECT basic strategy and your EV might only be -$10 for the night, but you could lose $500. That being said, you could get 'lucky' and win a few hundred too! I'm glad you ended on the good side of variance on this trip. As for the 'counter' you suspected playing a 1-8 spread next to you, be careful with that. If they don't know how to count well, then you could be making larger bets when you shouldn't be (oh no). It's best to just stick to your game, and when you're ready to implement counting I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job at it as you're quite detail oriented. Even if he was counting, and properly, counters don't always win in monster counts. See my articles for a more detailed explanation of why counting works and where the money really comes from (not just from "winning" in big counts). So he could have been doing everything right and just having a bad run of variance (luck). In the end there's no way for you to know unless you were also counting and could tell he was doing everything right/wrong.

I'm again really glad you had a fun and strong first blackjack outing! You probably came out the gates with your Basic Strategy and you're a better player than most out there just with that =P. Do remember that in 'the long run' basic strategy will be a loser, with a $5 avg bet your -EV is so small that drinking and having fun can more than be worth it =). I'm glad you had an experience that hopefully you'll remember for a long time! Now keep practicing and next time you head there perhaps you'll know you have the edge up on them =D. Great report and well done!



To all NEWBIES playing BJ the first time: About a month before my first live BJ game in Las Vegas, I was practicing with a BJ trainer on my iPAD, and reading the forum. I slowly got the interest to learn simplified basic strategy (18 cells to memorize), and then took a leap of faith to learn Full Basic Strategy (about 270 cells to memorize). In between practice sessions, I would continuously read the WoV forum for more insights. So I am encouraging you to read Article 1 on the A-Z of counting cards in blackjack, by Romes.

http://wizardofvegas.com/articles/A-to-Z-Counting-Cards-in-Blackjack/

Get through Article 1, even though some parts might be a little more demanding and technical, then Articles 2 & 3 will be a breeze!

This is now a recap so I can prepare for next year's trip: stay away from ALL side bets (newbies! say that to yourself aloud!) - Pair Squares has the house advantage of about 6%; don't be afraid to ask the Pit Boss for comps (he/she is usually the one to whom the dealer gives your player card - just be polite, honest, and not a loudmouth), and be aware that my first experience is probably not the average happy outcome! Even with perfect BS, there is something called "variance" that can blow you out of the water so fast, there are good luck "streaks" where the dealer beats you by 1 pt every hand, and sometimes you just don't get a decent deal. Walk away, take a break, play something else, and relax until you've calmed down to ride a new wave!

To Romes: thanks for all the confirmations about by my TR - I surely enjoyed writing it, and smiled at myself remembering each little detail.
Eat real food . . . and you won't need medicine (or a lot less!)
Joeshlabotnik
Joeshlabotnik
Joined: Jul 27, 2016
  • Threads: 20
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October 28th, 2016 at 8:13:22 PM permalink
Super bonus tip: when you play video poker, avoid all but the best paytables. For instance, not all Deuces Wild games are equal. There are less than half a dozen DW machines downtown with decent paytables. Take some time to learn what the good games are and where you can find them. VpFree2 is an excellent resource.

Ultimate X can be a blast, but it's also a money-sucker. The casinos know that people like it, so they offer it with lousy paytables. I only know of one place in all of Las Vegas that offers the game with an over 99% payback. Most of the time, it's more like 97%. This is much, much worse than any BJ game you could be playing.

And BTW, on any Deuces Wild game, you would indeed break up a straight to go for a wild royal if you had one or two deuces in your hand (assuming you would be drawing one card to it, for example AJ suited, 22, offsuit 10, discard the 10; AJK suited, 2, offsuit 10, also discard the 10). This sort of problem comes up often in video poker, which means you should make an effort to learn the strategy before you play. (You've done that for BJ, after all.) You can get strategies for most popular games on the internet, including on the Wiz's site.
BleedingChipsSlowly
BleedingChipsSlowly
Joined: Jul 9, 2010
  • Threads: 22
  • Posts: 984
October 28th, 2016 at 10:23:27 PM permalink
Thanks for taking the time to write a detailed trip report. I’m glad to hear your preparation and discipline paid big dividends in terms of an enjoyable experience. It’s always nice to hear of a case where the advice and knowledge offered on this site is put to good use.
“You don’t bring a bone saw to a negotiation.” - Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia

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