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Old 01-10-2012, 10:17 AM   #21
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I spent a week in LV right before Xmas and ate twice at Ellis Island. For a total (sans tip) there in The Cafe I got the off the menu (a local draw): a strip steak about 3/4" or so thick and bigger than the palm of my hand that was cooked to perfection; a baked potato with butter/sour cream; a salad and either a micro brew or root beer--both homemade, by the way = $8.90 total including the tax. Such a deal! It's a great meal!

If you go after 4 pm they have a BBQ place to eat where I understand a full slab of ribs and baked potato, ear of corn, (and I think a salad?) and beer/rootbeer goes for a total of something like $10.50! It looked absolutely fantastic, but I either got there way before 4 pm when this restaurant opens or the wait was 25 minutes longer than I wanted to wait for it so headed over to The Cafe for the strip steak instead.

The rootbeer and beer are homemade with their beer being the #1 beer made in Nevada. I got the light which has a slightly honey taste, and was really great to drink. Their amber beer was too strong for my taste but some will love it.

Remember: You have to ask for the strip steak at The Cafe as it is off the menu. Very worth it...definitely!

Warning: The casino area itself is pretty smoky at night, which was the reason I didn't want to wait the 25 minutes to the into the BBQ restaurant there. But, if smoke doesn't bother you, wait...the BBQ food looked fantastic!
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:22 AM   #22
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The pit boss kept rotating dealers on me because I kept coming back and playing perfect basic strategy.
Not to burst your ego, but every casino rotates every dealer every 30-45 minutes. It's been standard operating procedure for decades, to keep the dealers from working in cahoots with the players. It wasn't anything unique to you.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:36 PM   #23
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Not to burst your ego, but every casino rotates every dealer every 30-45 minutes. It's been standard operating procedure for decades, to keep the dealers from working in cahoots with the players. It wasn't anything unique to you.
It was more often than every 30-45 minutes and you can tell when they keep staring at you and hovering around you and the dealer. Or I'm paranoid! I decided I had enough attention and enjoyed my free beer. I wasn't varying my bet just playing the $5 or $10 table min so I'm not sure why they were eying me (other than most table mates had never heard of basic strategy so I was an outlier).
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:14 PM   #24
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Third floor of the Hilton? Not sure what you're talking about, Nords. However some of my old E-2C skippers may (or may not) have some razors from that hotel!
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Old 01-17-2012, 02:50 PM   #25
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I used to only play blackjack, but now I play Let It Ride. It's a several-level poker game that is a lot of fun. You aren't playing against the dealer, and there are multiple ways to win. Maybe give it a try if you are looking for something new.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:31 PM   #26
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Thanks again for the websites. I've been doing my daily studying, and this is coming back faster than I expected. Just being able to deal a few hundred hands (Play Blackjack for Free - Wizard of Odds) is a big help. Next up is card counting (GameMaster Classics - Lesson 4), but I still have six weeks to catch up.

Looks like the "Las Vegas Hilton Hotel" works very hard at keeping you on the property. I can live with that. Spouse will probably be comped for most of the convention (I'm hoping to do mine through the casino) so we may be OK with whatever food & entertainment they're serving there. It'll be easier for me to play for a couple hours during the day and spend the evening with her at the "real" convention work, or just holed up in the room taking it easy.

Of course we'll still have to make time to stroll the Strip, admiring all the flora & fauna architecture. And it'll be interesting to see what Fremont Street looks like when I'm sober.

This site is best viewed on a modern graphics card with a peppy processor: http://www.3dlasvegas.com/#!/n/Off-S...rby_categories You may have to download Google Earth first, but much of that has been cached or handled by the website instead of the browser.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:43 AM   #27
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Just don't walk the wrong way when you leave the El Cortez. It's in a dicey part of town and it gets real ugly if you walk in the opposite direction of Fremont street from there.

At least this was true 10 years ago when I last visited the El Cortez.

For a fun review of Vegas hotels, go to

www.cheapovegas.com


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I think there are still places where you can find roughly 2 out of a thousand losses (0.20% house edge). See my links I posted above. Looks like El Cortez is still offering 0.19% house edge with 5 min bet in downtown. Others on the strip offer similar 0.2-0.28% house edge but at higher min bets (although when I was in vegas during the craptacular economy of 2009 the min bets were typically $10 on the strip with 0.2%-ish house edge, although during the day time, not peak periods like Fri nights).

Basically with a 0.2% house edge at a $10 min bet table you lose $2 every 100 hands, which is probably the most you can play in an hour. $2 an hour for all you can drink buffet, comps, and free entertainment (watching non-basic strategy players lose - or WIN! - a bunch). Up the ante to $5/hr for $25 min bet tables.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:17 AM   #28
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After a month of practice, I've had an epiphany.

Last time we went to Vegas, I was relatively familiar with the game of blackjack-- but not so familiar with Vegas rules on multiple decks and continuous shuffles and all the other innovative ways to mess with the odds.

Thanks to a couple of the recommendations in this thread, I've considerably educated myself on the odds. The websites gave me a great chance to practice basic strategy until it's almost a reflex, so I could spend more effort on card counting. And as I was learning the ins & outs of the various card-counting methods, that led me to the odds and how they change with the counts and various table rules.

So I had more time to focus on the rate of play, the hourly gains/losses, and the size of the table stakes necessary to accommodate the volatility. Then there's the potential hassle of making sure your card-counting behavior doesn't come to the attention of the authorities (who may not really care in the first place) and the issue of finding a new table if the count swings too far against you.

As I was looking at the logistics necessary to support a couple days of play, I suddenly realized: I was playing for not much more than minimum wage. Not only that, but I could make far more money by selling a couple of call options on stock index funds (something I understand how to do) than by playing good blackjack. (Something I have yet to prove I understand how to do.) After a couple more days with the websites (which admittedly aren't perfect), I think I've confirmed what I was reading about minimum wage and the low payoffs.

My spouse says that only I could kill the buzz of a good game like blackjack by overstudying. But now I understand why the human elements of poker make it much more popular than just pushing the odds against a deck of cards.

I think next month's trip is going to be spent enjoying the outdoor sights & sounds, not so much the green felt.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:15 AM   #29
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I've been making about $50/hr the last month here in Vegas playing $1-2 NL. Blackjack is for tourists.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:17 AM   #30
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Good decision, Nords.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:03 AM   #31
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Good decision, Nords.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:28 AM   #32
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As I was looking at the logistics necessary to support a couple days of play, I suddenly realized: I was playing for not much more than minimum wage. Not only that, but I could make far more money by selling a couple of call options on stock index funds (something I understand how to do) than by playing good blackjack. (Something I have yet to prove I understand how to do.) After a couple more days with the websites (which admittedly aren't perfect), I think I've confirmed what I was reading about minimum wage and the low payoffs.
That was the conclusion I came to as well after starting down the road you were on. I pretty much stopped at basic strategy for Vegas and kept the card counting for novelty to show off to friends. As in "I can name the rest of the cards in the deck".
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:47 AM   #33
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As I was looking at the logistics necessary to support a couple days of play, I suddenly realized: I was playing for not much more than minimum wage.
Leverage, baby. Mortgage the houses to the hilt and hit the high limit tables. That'd surely goose your hourly rate. Uh-huh, that's the ticket.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:30 AM   #34
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...(snip)...
I think next month's trip is going to be spent enjoying the outdoor sights & sounds, not so much the green felt.
Enjoyed reading this thread. Great conclusion, too bad there's no surf in LV.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:06 AM   #35
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I wrote a program for a senior design project in my undergrad Engineering degree to analyze blackjack play and invent or find new strategies to beat the house (invent in the sense that I'm sure they already exist somewhere, but I'd never read about them).

I definitely had 'fun' writing the program. Its amazing how much you learn about the inner workings of the odds and statistics behind the game, as well as all the rules and variables that can be tweaked from casino to casino. Randomization in the shuffling and what effects it had on the outcomes.

The program was a mild attempt at AI in that it would adapt to small changes in these variables as it went and if it found a turn of a knob in one direction made things worse, then it would move another direction. It would always play about a billion hands with a certain set of rules... and then it would compare how the results looked vs the rest.

After letting the thing gather data and run for over a month it came up with some pretty incredible methods to beat the house and even altered the basic strategy to fit with the current deck (basic strategy morphs as the cards fall on the table... most don't adapt because that would require more brain power than a human can give in real time, so sticking to the basic rules in the long run is easier... and pretty good). [tangent, most people don't realize just how amazing the human brain is... some things we find incredibly simple like pattern recognition, or the ability to read emotion from tone, inflection and body language... are a real nightmare for computers.]

In the end I learned... without a team (like the MIT blackjack group) allowing you to jump in with huge bets only on the highs... you will never be able to really bring down the house at the game. It is a grind...

Ironically, after spending so much time on this project (I'd estimate a good 700 hours, I continued to develop it after graduating - for fun)... I'd say Blackjack is about the last thing I'd want to play at a casino. Sure, it is the best game for the odds... if you're dead set on getting those free drinks and losing the least amount of money it is the best option. [I found a few methods that didn't do quite as well as counting in the traditionally sense, but could reduce much of the house edge while running an easier strategy that the house was probably not checking for - such as only counting Aces and 2's - much easier to get drunk, enjoy yourself, and keep up with]

When I go to Vegas, or AC... I'm there with an understanding that it is for entertainment. When I walk through the blackjack section of a casino all I see is intent focus and sometimes stress... it reminds me a lot of the slots. Slow grind, state of hypnosis... not many smiles.

When I visit a casino, you'll find me in front of the craps table playing only the bets that gets the house edge down closer to that of Blackjack. "Sure I'll take the comps... sure I'd love a free drink... " my brain is tuned to the environment... and no amount of booze is going to get chips away from me faster, I know exactly how much I'll lose in the long run and I'm ok with that... I'm being entertained
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:14 AM   #36
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I wrote a program for a senior design project in my undergrad Engineering degree to analyze blackjack play and invent or find new strategies to beat the house (invent in the sense that I'm sure they already exist somewhere, but I'd never read about them).
I think that's the difference since my last Vegas trip-- hundreds of people like you have programmed website games to make it easier to play 100 hands/hour or more. Before you'd have to install software on your computer (which might or might not replicate the actual odds or just be for entertainment) or laboriously deal hands to yourself. At some point you'd get tired/bored of the grind and say "Ah, heck, I'm ready to find out how I can do at Vegas"... which a few days later would usually lead to "What the heck just happened in that casino?"

Well, now I know, and I didn't have to inhale second-hand smoke or deal with all the other inconveniences. Practicing at home in the perfect environment was still winning very slowly, and that's as good as it gets.

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Enjoyed reading this thread. Great conclusion, too bad there's no surf in LV.
There might be a few places still offering the Flowrider. But I don't need to pay for surf!

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I've been making about $50/hr the last month here in Vegas playing $1-2 NL. Blackjack is for tourists.
Can you decrypt the jargon for me? What exactly is "$1-2 NL"?

Care to estimate your weekly/monthly income? How sustainable is this $50/hour lifestyle?
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:42 AM   #37
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Can you decrypt the jargon for me? What exactly is "$1-2 NL"?

Care to estimate your weekly/monthly income? How sustainable is this $50/hour lifestyle?
I'm not an expert in Poker, but I'm pretty sure he is talking about 1$ small blind, 2$ big blind, Texas Holdem No Limit

Every hand you want to play you'll be putting in at least $2 just to see the flop. No Limit means that anyone, at any time, can go all in and you may have to put $500 or more into the pot to see what they have (if you think they are bluffing). If someone with a larger stash of money than you goes all in, you have to bet everything you have to go up against him (if you think you have the better hand).

Huge payoffs if you are good at reading people... usually the best poker players are the ones who ARE extremely good at reading people, and they excel at NL. The math wizards usually play PL (Pot Limit) or just plain Limit which restricts the amount you can bet to about twice the big blind ($4 in this case). PL limits the max bet to being the most that is currently in the pot, so you will never get a $500 all in when the pot is at $50 total.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:01 PM   #38
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Can you decrypt the jargon for me? What exactly is "$1-2 NL"?

Care to estimate your weekly/monthly income? How sustainable is this $50/hour lifestyle?

Sorry...$1-2 NL is Holdem Poker with no limit as to what you are allowed to bet. It is the common form of poker found in Vegas.

Reading a book such as "Poker for Dummies" would probably give you an edge over most tourists in this game...and a decent edge and reasonable sample size is all you need to be profitable in poker. After all it is a game of skill, unlike every other form of gambling in Vegas ....perhaps sportsbetting has skill but the juice is almost impossible to overcome..(think of a 5% MER on your ETF).

Although poker is not my lifestyle I do find myself in Vegas several months of the year and enjoy playing poker. $50/hour at $1-2 puts me probably in the top 5% of players at that level (most move up in stakes to $2-5 or $5-10).

I wasn't trying to be a smartass with my original response, but poker is a game played in Vegas that can be profitable ( the other is video poker).

Blackjack & craps are unbeatable in the long run, you can't count a 5 deck shoe, you can't manipulate dice. I'm glad you decided not to play.
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:18 PM   #39
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I gamble to get the free drinks. At least when I lose all my money I get cheap watered down swill to make it easier
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Old 02-21-2012, 09:58 PM   #40
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I went to Vegas one time in my life. It was in March of 1989. We stayed four days and three nights. I took $1000 with me and came home with $1450.00. I hit big when I first got there on beginners luck but I was always a good money manger so I stuck back the original $1000 and played on the rest at a much lower amount than I first started betting.
I know good bit about gambling as a friend of mine used to be a bookie and I would go to this place and just watch him take bets back in the middle 80's. The gamblers always would double up on games when they were loosing and never double up when they were winning. When one is having a run of good luck then is the time to double your bets not when you are in a snag.
I still gamble on occasion but only on something I am pretty good at like golf. I never take a bet with someone I cannot beat. Some gamblers in this sport will bet no matter who they are playing so I tend to take their money quite often. The young bucks think because I am old and not the hit ball as far as they do then I am easy. I have always had good hand and eye coordination so I beat them with my short game and it burns them up. They also keep coming back for more. I know one day in the future I will start loosing to them because of my age but so far that day has not come.
I am also extremely lucky, have been all my life. I still manage my money on the course like I would running a business and that has worked for me for almost 50 years. OK, I am finished but thought I would share something about gambling that has worked for me. One more thing, I also I do have days when other people have lots of luck playing me and I usually pick up on that early in the round. It has made me pocket money and thats about all one could ask. I stay as far from casino's as I can now. I know the one trip to Vegas was luck and I will leave it at that. oldtrig
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