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Vegas. Baby.
Old 01-03-2012, 11:15 PM   #1
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Vegas. Baby.

I didn't know whether to post this in "FIRE & money" or "Life after FIRE". Somehow it doesn't seem appropriate to post this in a "travel" forum when you'll barely be leaving the casino hotel.

Spouse will be at a convention in March, and she's asked me to wrangle her luggage. She'll keep me fully posted on the convention so I'm not even going to bother registering to browse their exhibit hall, let alone attend any of the events. I'll be on my own every morning & afternoon, although the evenings will probably be spent accompanying her in conjunction with conventioneer conviviality conferences. We're arriving on a Sunday afternoon and leaving very early Thursday morning.

We'll be staying at the Hilton (eh, Hawkeye, hopefully not the 3rd floor) and I expect to have my days largely to myself. As a nuclear submariner my vices choices are Texas hold 'em or blackjack, and I favor the latter. While I've done my fair share of studying and practicing, I don't regularly play and I'm not au courant with the latest Vegas table policies.

Any advice on where around the Hilton I'd find a good blackjack table? I'm not looking for comps or gimmicks as much as I'm hoping for a quiet (maybe even smoke-free) corner where I can play work for a couple hours a day.

I think card-counting is dead, but I can still execute basic strategy. I haven't read a good blackjack book for about five years, especially with betting advice... any recommendations for recent books or websites that seem ready to stand the test of time?

What's changed on etiquette and tipping? Anything else I should read up on? Any new downloads or websites to use for practice?

Oh, one other thing I'll need to figure out: spouse will probably be free for a lunch hour, and we usually enjoy eating takeout in our room. Any good lunch carryout cuisine around the Hilton that I'll want to investigate?
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:43 AM   #2
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Nords,

I got really into blackjack for a brief period a few years ago. Here are two resources I used for Vegas blackjack and general blackjack strategy.

Wizard of odds website:
Blackjack - Wizard of Odds

Wizard of Odds blackjack survey of different vegas casinos and their rules and house edge:
Blackjack Survey - Gaming Guides - Wizard of Vegas

I guess it depends on what your goals are. If you just want to play small hands and lose the least (statistically speaking) then you could take the smallest house edge casino that also has the smallest minimum bet. From what I recall the Strip had the lowest house edge but typically had higher bet limits than downtown. Downtown seemed to have crappier rules that pushed the house edge up but $5 tables were not a problem to find.

In terms of being intimidated at playing at the big boy's table at a nice strip casino - don't be. I am assuming you'll be playing mostly day time and there probably won't be a ton of action at that time and the dealer can go slow (since you might be the only player at a table).

Don't get rattled and don't be afraid to step away from the table or sit out a hand if you lose your train of thought (playing basic strategy).
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:46 AM   #3
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I played a lot at Ellis Island which is a block or two off strip, but had cheap/free (delicious microbrew) beer, low limits, and a $7 steak dinner special that was delicious. Google says Ellis Island is 1.5 miles from the LV Hilton so a hike on foot.

Otherwise, I would say make sure you don't get a crappy house edge just to get in at a $5 min table because you might be able to play at a $10 table at a casino with better rules and cut the house edge by 2/3.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:25 PM   #4
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I played a lot at Ellis Island which is a block or two off strip...
That has been our choice as a place to go (cheap, but good )....

One of the better places off the strip, that you can get to without a car.

BTW, the LVH is no longer the LVH:

Las Vegas Hilton casino starts new year by changing marquee, website to lose brand moniker - chicagotribune.com
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:16 PM   #5
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That has been our choice as a place to go (cheap, but good )....

One of the better places off the strip, that you can get to without a car.

BTW, the LVH is no longer the LVH:

Las Vegas Hilton casino starts new year by changing marquee, website to lose brand moniker - chicagotribune.com
I don't know if you played any blackjack there but the typical players there sucked pretty bad. Hardly any used basic strategy and some did some incredibly stupid risky (and costly) moves.

The pit boss kept rotating dealers on me because I kept coming back and playing perfect basic strategy. Guess they weren't used to it off-strip. Nice little place though. Definitely much more low key than a strip casino. I think there is a Super 8 motel attached to it??
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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I don't know if you played any blackjack there...
DW/me don't go to Vegas to gamble (we have a casino locally - it's been open over two years and I only went there once - to see a concert ).

We go for the sights/shows; no need to contribute to the economy through throwing our money away ...
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:34 PM   #7
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Hopefully this chart is up to date:
Current Blackjack Rules & Blackjack Conditions in Las Vegas Casinos 2012 - Easy Money Blackjack
Looks like LVH has a 2 deck game that's still paying 3:2.

From my experience and what friends have said, if you're counting your cards and only varying your bets slightly, you usually won't get much heat ($10-$30). If you're going from $10 to $100, they will, but they usually start with early shuffles (although most 2 deck games never deal past one deck anyway.)

Some tables have no smoking signs, especially at off-strip casinos that are more heavily targeted towards locals.
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by FUEGO
I played a lot at Ellis Island which is a block or two off strip, but had cheap/free (delicious microbrew) beer, low limits, and a $7 steak dinner special that was delicious. Google says Ellis Island is 1.5 miles from the LV Hilton so a hike on foot.

Otherwise, I would say make sure you don't get a crappy house edge just to get in at a $5 min table because you might be able to play at a $10 table at a casino with better rules and cut the house edge by 2/3.
Gambling and free beer. What could go wrong there?
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:48 PM   #9
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Gambling and free beer. What could go wrong there?
I would usually refrain from drinking while gambling for the most part. Hard to play perfect basic strategy with a buzz. But when I was done I would have no problem receiving a free pint of microbrew . Free usually meant a tip however, so maybe $1.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post

We'll be staying at the Hilton (eh, Hawkeye, hopefully not the 3rd floor) and I expect to have my days largely to myself. As a nuclear submariner my vices choices are Texas hold 'em or blackjack, and I favor the latter. While I've done my fair share of studyi]ng and practicing, I don't regularly play and I'm not au courant with the latest Vegas table policies.
Hilton is kinda off by itself, i.e. not on strip. BJ is ok, but I think that you will get more bang for your buck if you play hold'em
Quote:
Oh, one other thing I'll need to figure out: spouse will probably be free for a lunch hour, and we usually enjoy eating takeout in our room. Any good lunch carryout cuisine around the Hilton that I'll want to investigate?
I don't think there is anything near the Hilton as to carry outs or even restaurants. You may be hostage to their restaurants. It is NOT really far to the strip and I believe you have access to a tram that will get you to the strip hotels. Go to the Harrah's/Imperial Palace stop and walk over to the strip. Nice food court ('cheaper' eats) on the 2nd floor of the Venetian (as well as one of the best poker rooms in town imho).

btw, you don't have to pay for a drink if you are gambling when in most casinos in Vegas, just tip the waitress a buck or so.

Have fun.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:43 AM   #11
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Go to the Harrah's/Imperial Palace stop and walk over to the strip. Nice food court ('cheaper' eats) on the 2nd floor of the Venetian (as well as one of the best poker rooms in town imho).
There is also a McDonald's on the strip. I think it is right next to Harrah's IIRC. Good place to raid the $1 menu. Order a ghetto Big Mac - $1 double cheeseburger and ask for big mac sauce on it. And if you go late at night, you can have it served with a side of "tranny hookers hitting on drunk frat boys". That latter menu item is free of charge of course (gotta love Vegas!).
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:02 PM   #12
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BlackJack in Las Vegas isn't what it was. They have changed the rules now (by dealer now hitting soft 17) so that you can't play basic stategy all day and stay relatively even.

Years ago I used to go to Las Vegas, play basic stategy blackjack all day and night (always betting the minimum). I drank all their booze and was sometimes comped free meals. I played so much that I got kind of bored with it. I would talk to people from all over the country. I got to be quite proficient at it. I liked being in the game without ever losing much and getting all the freebies.

If I played my hands correctly with basic stategy I expected to be (on average) down two bets after 1000 hands of BlacKJack (1000 hands would take maybe 3 days or so to play). There was some variance in my stash, but over time I almost always was nearly even.

It doesn't work like that anymore. The dealer hitting soft 17 doesn't sound initially like that big of a deal, but it comes up often enough so that your bankroll dwindles. The concept of playing and staying in doesn't work any more since the rule changes. A total of 17 was a losing hand for the dealer. They significantly better their odds by taking another card on a soft 17 hand.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:04 PM   #13
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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 01-05-2012, 03:22 PM   #14
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If I played my hands correctly with basic stategy I expected to be (on average) down two bets after 1000 hands...
Reminds me of the gambler's saying "I hope I break even, 'cause I could really use the money."

I don't want to brag, but last time I gambled in Vegas, I cashed out with over 7 times the amount I spent.

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Old 01-05-2012, 05:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by FUEGO

Basically with a 0.2% house edge at a $10 min bet table you lose $2 every 100 hands,
Does that assume that you play perfectly?
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:48 PM   #16
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Does that assume that you play perfectly?
Yes.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:04 PM   #17
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Reminds me of the gambler's saying "I hope I break even, 'cause I could really use the money."

I don't want to brag, but last time I gambled in Vegas, I cashed out with over 7 times the amount I spent.
nice

Ellis Island, as recommended earlier, is great for their steak dinner. Blackjack, not so much.

Tuscany on Flamingo has the best rules (3:2 pay on blackjack, not the 6:5 junk) and comps. And several decent restaurants to use the comps at. IMO.
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:28 AM   #18
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If you play the same place then you might want to start one of their comp cards. I play the tables with the lowest min and number of decks for black jack. Let me also get a plug in for the Pinball Hall of Fame which is in Vegas.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:22 AM   #19
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Nords,
I got really into blackjack for a brief period a few years ago. Here are two resources I used for Vegas blackjack and general blackjack strategy.
Wizard of odds website:
Blackjack - Wizard of Odds
Wizard of Odds blackjack survey of different vegas casinos and their rules and house edge:
Blackjack Survey - Gaming Guides - Wizard of Vegas
I guess it depends on what your goals are. If you just want to play small hands and lose the least (statistically speaking) then you could take the smallest house edge casino that also has the smallest minimum bet. From what I recall the Strip had the lowest house edge but typically had higher bet limits than downtown. Downtown seemed to have crappier rules that pushed the house edge up but $5 tables were not a problem to find.
In terms of being intimidated at playing at the big boy's table at a nice strip casino - don't be. I am assuming you'll be playing mostly day time and there probably won't be a ton of action at that time and the dealer can go slow (since you might be the only player at a table).
Don't get rattled and don't be afraid to step away from the table or sit out a hand if you lose your train of thought (playing basic strategy).
Quote:
Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
The pit boss kept rotating dealers on me because I kept coming back and playing perfect basic strategy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by meekie View Post
Hopefully this chart is up to date:
Current Blackjack Rules & Blackjack Conditions in Las Vegas Casinos 2012 - Easy Money Blackjack
Looks like LVH has a 2 deck game that's still paying 3:2.
From my experience and what friends have said, if you're counting your cards and only varying your bets slightly, you usually won't get much heat ($10-$30). If you're going from $10 to $100, they will, but they usually start with early shuffles (although most 2 deck games never deal past one deck anyway.)
Some tables have no smoking signs, especially at off-strip casinos that are more heavily targeted towards locals.
Thanks, guys, I'll work through those links. I'm mostly concerned about having the basic-strategy routine down well enough that I can still pay attention to what's happening around me. So to speak.

I do okay on the $25 tables; last trip (a few years ago) was yielding $100/day for a couple hours' work. Of course that's just one sample. But it's... work. If I'm sitting next to a bunch of drunk smokers then I'm pretty sure I can find something else to do outdoors or elsewhere on the strip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
I would usually refrain from drinking while gambling for the most part. Hard to play perfect basic strategy with a buzz. But when I was done I would have no problem receiving a free pint of microbrew . Free usually meant a tip however, so maybe $1.
No problem there, my drinking days are behind me.
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Ellis Island
Old 01-09-2012, 08:36 AM   #20
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Ellis Island

DH loves Ellis Island for its award winning beers and tasty BBQ ribs; however, the casino is a throwback to the dark, smoke-filled places of yesteryear. It's a friendly local hangout. So if you're looking for clean air while gambling, you should avoid Ellis Island, unless they've upgraded their ventilation system in the last month.

LVH does not offer free shuttle service as of last month either. You're best bet is to take the monorail, walk, taxi or a rental car.
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