Posted by AcesAndEights
Feb 06, 2013

Much-belated full HB Challenge trip report, plus looking forward...

So, I just last weekend finally entered my giant backlog of gambling results into my gambling spreadsheet, in anticipation of tax season. And thus, I can here report my final totals from the HB Challenge trip in October:
3 card poker: -$475 (67 minutes total time playing, only 22 of those minutes with a reliable flasher)
Blackjack: +$12.50 (4 hours of play with decent rules, either S17 or DD with decent pen, $25 units)
Craps: +$754 (definitely more than 4 hours of play, either $10 or $25 line bets with 3-4-5x odds or more)
Total: $291.50

As you can see, lots of negative reinforcement there! Basically lost money on my advantage gambling, and made money on craps. Looking at my spreadsheet totals, I'm currently a lifetime winner at craps to the tune of about $7000 over about 90 sessions, going back to January 2010. Sounds good, right? Well, Teddy's recent downward swing at the craps tables has really had an effect on me. There but for the grace of variance, go I! I have played craps 2 times at my local tribal joints since October and lost about $1700, and felt really awful after both sessions. And not even any free drinks!

So, I'm going to try to severely curb my craps play in the future. I would like to completely eliminate it in my home state, to be honest, as a lot of the fun I have in Vegas is the assurance of a nice free buzz even if I lose. Here in WA state, if I win, cool! If I lose, I'm sober and pissed off, and have to drive 30-45 minutes back home stewing. That's no fun. So, no craps at home. Maybe a little in Vegas, but at low stakes and with high odds multiples, at low-roller joints where I can at least get some good room offers coming in the future (i.e. downtown).

2 out of my last 3 trips to Vegas have followed the same pattern. When I first get there, my resolve is strong. I play some blackjack, consume minimal alcohol. Then my friends show up and we hang out. Hey, let's hit the craps tables! I usually end up giving some free lessons, it's fun. But at that point, once the booze starts flowing, I'm done with anything +EV. So, I'm going to have to exhibit much more self-discipline in the future! I am not one of those surly APs who look down their noses at anyone who enjoys recreational gambling - I enjoy it too! I just want to keep my eyes on the bottom line, and limit my exposure and expected loss to a reasonable entertainment budget. I love card counting and other advantage plays too, and I LOVE winning money consistently! (Who doesn't of course.) I just need to put in the work and keep up the discipline.

Next trip to Vegas will be in late May for WovCon ///. I will be there from Wednesday-Monday, so I will have ample time to be productive and to be tempted to lapse. Thankfully the meetup with other forum members will be on Saturday, so I will be lone-wolfing it for the majority of the trip, and will hopefully stay on target. I am unsure what my bankroll is going to be like for this trip, but I am hoping to unlock the ability to play at the $50 S17 tables at various MLife casinos. This will require a $50-$500 spread, which would have been unwise with my last trip bankroll. But, I don't have a lot of expenses coming down the pike in the next few months, and am working a steady job and saving away from every weekly paycheck, so we'll see. I'll be unlikely to play that level everywhere, as the commensurate heat from a large big bet like that will be a challenge for me, but I'd like the capability at least.

As to the trip itself, I already described in my short trip report the meetup with SOOPOO, Teddy, and HotBlonde. I paid off my debt of $550 to HB. In fact, I didn't include that in my gambling results above, as I categorized it as a non-Vegas-trip-specific bet, but I guess if you count that then I was behind for the trip.

Nothing huge stands out from the trip, except for a craps session at Paris just before I left. There were a couple there that were definitely trying to influence the dice. They had all the tell-tale signs: right-handers standing at stick-left 1 and 2, using the same sets for every throw, very focused on the same repeatable motion and trying to keep the dice on-axis and flying together. If I had to guess, I would say they had read Scoblete's book or might have even attended one of the Golden Touch seminars. The couple consisted of a young black man and a white woman in her 40s probably. And wouldn't you know it, the lady went on a MONSTER roll while I was there! I wish I had written down the details, but she probably rolled for 30 or 40 minutes (I consider this a monster roll, YMMV). I don't know what I made on that specific hand, but that session was +1829, and I'm pretty sure it was negative except for that roll. They each shot the dice several times and that was the only one out of the ordinary, but I just had to mention it given the current dice-control-heavy theme of the forum :). Their throws didn't look very "controlled" to me, so I am not any more of a believer now than I was before, but it was interesting at least.

Lastly, an evaluation of my goals from the October trip, which you can read in these two blog posts.
1) Not met. -EV gambling definitely exceeded +EV gambling.
2) Met, although the game I found was not a 100% flasher. From what I've read/learned in the interim about 3CP hole-card play, I really should avoid anything but a 100% reliable flasher. I estimate the dealer I found was about 75% for me. Also I played some non-flashers just looking for opportunities, which is bad. Next trip none of that.
3) Not met, but I barely spent money on food. The problem is that I didn't have any comp dollars downtown, so once I got down there I was forced to spend a little cash (in addition to mooching off of Teddy). I got a couple of hot dogs for a buck from the snack bar at the Mermaid casino. I'm surprised this place hasn't come up on the forum (at least I haven't noticed it). Seriously cheap food at a risk to your immune system :). I very rarely get sick and don't mind eating at sketchy restaurants, so it was not an issue for me. I STILL have tons of comp money left to spend at MLife and TR casinos, so I will hopefully make better use of that on the next trip.
4) Yep, swapped out the cards, although by the time of my next trip, my Platinum status with TR will have expired.
1a) I kept pretty good records, including table numbers for almost all of my sessions. Will keep this up going forward.
2a) MET! I scored an "on" lammer from Main Street Station from one of my come bets that won on the come-out roll. Dude stacked it up along with the chips and shipped it out to me :). I don't really feel bad about this at all, I'm sure that little piece of plastic is worth less than a dollar to the casino.
3a) Didn't have time for a swim.
4a) Haha, forgot about this one. I did not focus on breaking any fashion rules, but I broke a couple of hers just because that's how I roll all the time :)
5a) No back-offs to speak of so this one is incomplete. Still a goal moving forward.
6a) Did not seek out a 3:2 party pit! Hopefully next trip.

If you've read this far, you have too much time on your hands! Can't wait for my May trip to get here. Hopefully will see some of you there.


MakingBook Feb 06, 2013

+$7,000 in craps over 90 sessions. Awesome dude! Maybe you should do a Tuesday night broadcast?

odiousgambit Feb 07, 2013

We both have a story about a lady with a monster roll in our blog posts. My little girl reminded me of someone who has trouble seeing over the steering wheel while driving. If the dice didnt get pushed to her all the way to the wall she couldnt pick them up! No way was she setting the dice, just a toss! And I called it: she had been declining the dice when it was her turn and when she wanted to roll finally, I gave in immediately to a solid hunch she was going to take no prisoners!

AcesAndEights Feb 07, 2013

What can I say MakingBook, nothing but low-edge bets and positive variance. I could make a TV show about that, but it would be about 5 minutes long!

On my last few sessions I have been giving in to the occasional hard way or horn bet. I forgot how high the edge was on those bets! Will have to keep that under control in the future. I don't mind a few hard way bets for the dealers, but I shouldn't be throwing in a green chip and getting all the hard ways, 2-way on the point. Flushing money down the toilet at that point :(

djatc Apr 03, 2013

Do you play at Muckleshoot? I live in Auburn and used to go there until I found out they are running class II VP machines in the state. I haven't put a cent in gambling money in WA state for this particular reason.

You're welcome to take on my challenge, but I never go to any casinos here because VP is crippled, and I don't make trips just to play table games. It always seems to call me when I'm in Vegas though....

Posted by AcesAndEights
Oct 22, 2012

Well, I survived

Short trip report: played about 5 hours of blackjack and then I started drinking and rolling dice and...lost my resolve. I'm the world's worst amateur AP, haha. I did end the trip slightly positive; I need to run the numbers that are in my phone to get an exact count.

I met SOOPOO, HotBlonde, and teddys at Main Street Station for craps. Unfortunately Teddy's bad luck at craps rubbed off on me, instead of the other way around. All in all I think I was stuck about $2500 just at MSS. Let the record show that I spilled beer on Teddy's shoes, and he still got my dinner with his comp points.

Scott and Anne are both nice people, I believe they just have conflicting personalities. I did witness them have several personal interactions without coming to fisticuffs, so there's that. The Wizard did not make it out to our small gathering, so I will have to collect my 20 pushups from him later.

I still love Vegas.


SOOPOO Oct 22, 2012

If you ended the trip positive despite that 'negative variance' experience at the craps table, then you are a professional AP! I think my presence at the craps table was a likely cause..... Although--- tell the forum---- who set the dice(albeit randomly), tossed the dice (albeit randomly), and called a hard ten---- and proceeded to roll it? It was me!

teddys Oct 22, 2012

I'm glad you survived. I have had two more losing sessions since I was with you, both times busting out a $1,000 BR. That makes five out of six losing sessions, including four bust-outs. Naturally, as soon as I start betting big I go on an enormous losing streak. The dice hate me right now -- stay away!

EvenBob Oct 22, 2012

If you saw several altercations, imagine how many there were

that you didn't see. Those darn lovebirds..

AcesAndEights Oct 22, 2012

I did use the word "altercations" or any variation of it - I said I saw several interactions WITHOUT issue. You straight up just put words in my mouth Bob. Please don't do that.

AcesAndEights Oct 22, 2012

F***, I meant to say I did NOT use the word altercations. Really bummed that you can't edit (or even delete!) these blog comments.

Posted by AcesAndEights
Oct 18, 2012

Updated calculations, a few additional goals...

Once I decided to start looking at the house edge "per roll" for pass/don't pass bets, it became a little bit easier to estimate my hourly loss at craps. Thanks to JB for pointing me in the right direction.

I'm going to aim for a maximum of 4 bets on the table, whether I'm going right way or wrong way. Using some WinCraps simulation data provide by goatcabin here, it looks like my average number of units on the table will be 2.91 using this strategy. So $25 * 2.91 * .0042 * 100 = $30/hour, assuming a fairly full table. This data is for Pass/Come, I'm assuming the numbers for Don't Pass/DC should be very similar but slightly less. The 2.91 number I'm skeptical about while playing DC, to be honest, but I'm going to run with it. I'm actually thinking of switching to right side exclusively for this trip, due to an additional goal (described below).

Given that negative $30/hour expectation for craps, I'm going to try to keep my play to an hour or maybe two, MAX. Otherwise there's no way I'll be able to make up the EV in AP play. Am I being too rigorous about this? Maybe, but honestly this part of it is kind of fun for me too :).

So, some additional goals which I forgot from last post:
  1. Keep good records. In general I've been very good about keeping W/L records for all of my gambling activity. However, there are some additional things that I haven't been tracking that I need to start. For Blackjack, rules and penetration are important, but so are the number of other players at the table, and the length of the session (as reasonably close as you can track it). I've gotten better about this in the past and hope to continue. For all games, I want to start keeping track of the table number, for tax reasons. Will I get audited? Who knows, but I'll probably end up generating at LEAST 4 CTRs this year (from bank transactions, not casino ones), so better safe than sorry.
  2. On my last trip, I came very close to collecting one of those little "on" lammers from a craps table. I always leave my come odds working on the come-out, so they put the lammer on at least one of the stacks. At Bill's last April, that number hit and the dealer almost handed the lammer to me in my stack of chips. So, I'm going to switch to the right side for this trip and try to see if I can get an unwary dealer to donate something to my (non-existent) collection of casino knick-knacks.
  3. I've never checked out the Flamingo pool, despite staying there several times. So, I'd like to check it out if not actually lay out and swim a bit. Eh, an easy goal.
  4. Break as many of Nareed's fashion rules for men as possible! Now, I'm not bringing any business attire, so that one might be tough. And I don't usually wear tank tops, but I might just have to make an exception! All in good fun.
  5. Handle any back-offs better than I have in the past. I've only been backed off once, and flat bet once, but both times I broke many of the "cardinal rules" as listed by Grosjean. For example, asking if you can still play other games, asking if your points are still good, going directly to the cage, etc. Really you should just act dumb, not say anything substantial, and GTFO! I'll refresh myself on this list and try to keep cool.
I think that's it. See you on the flip side.


teddys Oct 18, 2012

Sounds good. Let me know if you want to do some real gambling downtown after you play the E.V. game at CET/Bill's. I might also be persuaded to come down to the Strip...good variance!

AcesAndEights Oct 18, 2012

I almost forget one last goal - play at least 1 3:2 party pit! Reference: here and here. One more reason to go downtown.

RogerKint Oct 18, 2012

That post you referenced from me was when the Plaza turned their regular pit into a party pit on the weekends. The Vegas Club does the same thing with the same rules only MUCH more crowded. The dancers were dealing their double deck game out of a shoe with decent pen. Warning: you'll have the lyrics "I want you to take over control" and "Party rock is in the house tonight" stuck in your head all night. On my last trip I didn't notice the Plaza's party pit going. The LVC was though. Teddys can probably confirm this. GOOD LUCK!

RogerKint Oct 18, 2012

p.s. if you want to be heads up with the cutest dancer that makes the most payout mistakes, simultaneously break Nareed's rules about deodorant and tanktops. If that doesn't work you can light up one of those cheap cigars the Plaza's vendors slang.

AcesAndEights Oct 18, 2012


AcesAndEights Oct 19, 2012

Lest other folks aren't up to date on "popular" music, previous comment by me was a lyric to "Party Rock Anthem."

Anyway, thanks for the party pit info Roger.

RaleighCraps Oct 19, 2012


I know you are aware your actual loss rate is not going to come close to your calculation. It is a very rare trip for me where I go up starting with the first roll. Most of the time, I am getting killed, killed, and more killed. Basically just trying to stay alive, until that ONE ROLL happens that makes it all worthwhile. There is almost always one or two good rolls in a session.

Good shooting to you. May your hot hand come up on your table early in your session. :-)

AcesAndEights Oct 19, 2012

Thanks for the warning and encouragement! 7craps is taking me task in the form thread about living and dying by EV alone. I am happy with my game plan though :).

Posted by AcesAndEights
Oct 17, 2012

48 hours in Vegas! Some goals...

I'll be heading to Vegas this weekend, on the ground for just over 48 hours - landing at 8:39pm Friday, taking off for home at 9:25pm on Sunday. I booked this flight before I started my current job, so I didn't know if I would be able to get any time off. In retrospect, I wish I had added Monday or Friday to the trip, as getting an (unpaid) day off would have been feasible - oh well.

Now the purpose of the trip is threefold:
  1. Pay off HotBlonde as I owe her $550 for successfully completing the challenge. I bet her $450 at the original stakes, and then added another $100 at even money later on when it was not looking good for her. Props to HB for making a healthy life decision!
  2. Do some advantage gambling.
  3. Do some (less) non-advantage gambling, have some fun, meet up with some forum members, and generally just enjoy Vegas! I really miss it sometimes.
Some goals for the trip.
  1. Gamble such that my expected win covers my plane ticket of $384. This is not strictly a money-making trip as I'm not really bankrolled to have any serious expected value, but I think I can manage this, even taking out my expected losses from non-AP activities. However, I'm not going to include the $550 I owe HotBlonde as part of my gambling losses for the trip, as that bet isn't directly related to the weekend. This goal will require that I keep my ratio of advantage gambling:non-advantage gambling to a certain maximum. My hotel stay will be comped (Flamingo), so no need to worry about that.
  2. Take advantage of at least one hole-card opportunity, probably at 3CP. I need to diversify my AP portfolio. I found one exploitable game on my last trip without even scouting too much, so this should be doable.
  3. Not spend any money on food. Between MLife and TR I have about $220 in comp dollars. I feel like I should be able to eat on that for the weekend as I don't have expensive tastes.
  4. Make sure I trade in my cards for the next tiers. I made Platinum and Pearl on my last trip but didn't have a chance to swap out the cards. This should be an easy one.
One goal that I originally had on the list was to get to know the basic transit system in Vegas, to save some money on trips between the airport, the Strip, and downtown (probably the only 3 areas I will visit). However, with such a short trip, I think I will resort to cabbing it from the airport to the Flamingo. I may still try to take the Deuce or the SDX downtown to save money, but we'll see.

As to goal #1 above, I've done some rough calculations...I really should get some of Norm's software and do some real simulations, but for this I'm just using the estimations on page 161 of Blackjack Bluebook II for EV. The expected win for a player using KISS III at a 6 deck H17 LS game using a $10-$100 spread is $16/hour. Now, my spread for this trip will be roughly $25-$250, so multiplying by 2.5, my expected hourly win should be about $40/hour.

The troubling part is that there will be plenty of S17 and DD games in Vegas to play, so hopefully this will be a lower bound. But, I'm going to use this figure, which means I'll need to play about 10 hours of competent blackjack to break even on my plane ticket (EV-wise, actual results will of course vary significantly). For the potential 3CP games, I was going to make a SWAG based on some math in Exhibit CAA, but there are just too many variables, not the least of which is that I'm not entirely confident in my own we'll just go with the $40/hour figure there too. But really it should be more. Under-promise and over-deliver!

10 actual playing hours in a weekend is going to be tough, with all the walking around. I don't use any cover so I try to keep my sessions short, ideally leave at the end of a shoe after exposing my max bet. Well, all I can do is try, hopefully on my next trip I will have a bigger bankroll!

Now, for the non-EV gambling...I'm hoping to get in some craps with some WoV members, as it is my favorite -EV game, and it will allow me to at least make an appearance with my players cards. I usually play dark side, but sometimes can be convinced to play the "right" way; either way I stick to Pass/Don't Pass plus Come/Don't Come. Given a bet size of $25 and a maximum of 3 bets on the table (disregarding odds as they won't affect the EV)...gosh I'm tired. I'll try to finish up this calculation before I leave, or maybe I'll just ask for help in the forum...


FleaStiff Oct 18, 2012

Short trip, long trip... stay off mind-numbing, spirit-killing buses!

Good luck to you, particularly on the Dark Side.

teddys Oct 18, 2012

I'm up for craps and I should be around this weekend. I can't play on the Strip, though, 'cause I don't do 345 odds. Could meet you downtown though.

rdw4potus Oct 18, 2012

damnit! missed you by 36 hours:-( Try to collect some of the money that I left scattered around town!

Scotty71 Oct 18, 2012

I was last in Vegas in December. I am no AP or hole carder but I was able to see the dealers hole card in BJ on two occasions at the same casino. I didnt want any trouble or problems for the dealer so I colored up and went to the craps table. I wont name the casino but if you want to PM me I will share it with you and you can make your own determination if the dealers are weak

AcesAndEights Oct 18, 2012

Teddy, I admire your principles! I was hoping to get in my craps at CET properties so as to "keep up appearances" and hopefully keep the free rooms coming. However, I wouldn't be opposed to opening up an account at a Downtown joint and giving them some play. Since my long-term strategy involves mostly playing unrated, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to get in the good graces of a cheaper hotel. I wouldn't mind staying downtown in the future.

Now, if we're playing at a 10x odds table, I may have to re-evaluate my $25 unit size on the don't side....$300-500 is an awful lot to plunk down behind those numbers, compared to the standard $150 at a 3-4-5 table!

teddys Oct 18, 2012

Okay. Wanna try Main Street Station? Comped microbrews+20x odds+Hawaiians=good times. Plus, I need to get back some of that 1 guap I left there. Boyd is pretty good with comps, don't even need a $25 bet.

AcesAndEights Oct 18, 2012

That sounds like a pretty good plan. I already have pending meetups with SOOPOO and MidwestAP but there are no concrete times for anything, so it may be chaos.