Where I Have Been

Because where I have played most recently is probably of more interest to you than where I played awhile ago, this web-section will be organized in descending date-order.


Chumash Indian Casino - Oct & Dec. 27, 2004

After a family visit in San Jose for the Hollydaze, I again drove back to Southern California by way of Highway-101. This must be an "El-Nino" year because I've not driven in such a rain-torrent in a LONG time.
In October, I made a stop-in to the Chumash to test-drive some hit-N-run theories. The only thing my "theory" was useful for was effecting table departure after a 12-unit loss. Being a thursday (around 14:00 PST) there was not adequate table selection - time to BAIL.

Studying the Chumash game using the Boris for Blackjack Software to simulate the Chumash's 6-Deck ShuffleMaster Box game, I've been formulating a combination Card-count/Clump-track approach for beating the 6-Deck BOX. (For more infor the the BOX shuffler, go to Boris' Shuffle Machine web-section.)
On Dec. 27, while the Chumash had 4 Blackjack pits open, most of the games were HORRIBLY unplayable. Scouting the $10 games found nearly every one of them to horribly dealer-favorable: the dealer break ratio being under 20%, with 20's, 21's and BJ's being the majority hands.

[As a side-note, a "break-in" dealer told me he recently dealt a hand with 6-Blackjacks (they use 6-spot tables), dealt himself a Ten-UP, and turned-up a Blackjack PUSH.
Remember that a Blackjack should occur 4.76% of the time (coincidentally, 1 out of 21 hands) - a Blackjack PUSH should occur about 0.227% of the time (1-in-21 Squared, or ie. 1-in-441 hands). If my calculations are correct, a hand with SIX BJ Pushes should happen every 1-in-1.7_MILLION Hands (.0000017% of the time) - AMAZING!]

There were several empty $25 tables, and a pair of decent $25 games, altho I was not bankrolled enough to play $25 - $50 units. So, oddly enough, I jumped in at Seat-5 (in a 4 - 6 player) $5 game once the shuffle card for the "Blue cards" came out (remember: the SM-Box generates two game-signatures). A $45 buy-in gave me 10 red chips - not a bad start.

I asked the player next to me if the Red cards were "lucky cards" and he went on to explain how he "always" wins at the red cards. Sure ebough the Red cards started off HOT, but then deteriorated fast. My lucky-red-card friend got KILLED from "mis-play" of the hands (Basic Strategy? Wazzat?).
I was up a few units when the Blue-cards came back into play. As with the $10 games, the dealer-break ratio plummeted and the dealer end-total returned to an average of about 19.5. The one Blackjack I received was a "$5 Special" - Sheeeesh.
After pushing a series of 18's and 19's (and then a 20) with the dealer, I knew it was time to bail.

I cashed out with a net loss of 5-$5 Units - down a grand-total of $20.
This play is "proof once again" that playing 2PM cards in the Chumash is counter-productive; no pun intended. For my style of play, Chumash wash-cards are the best.
For my NEXT Chumash trip, I intend to arrive around 10AM. If wash cards aren't ready, then I will stall time by having breakfast and come back an hour later.
Meanwhile, I guess I need some more practice play with Boris. Have you ever played the Chumash? If so, what were YOUR results?


Chumash Indian Casino - Sept. 16, 2004

After a family visit in San Jose this week, I drove back to Southern California by way of Highway-101; with more 70 MPH sections, 101 is now a superior drive to the North L.A. area (over dusty I-5).

The "New" Chumash Casino can be found on Hwy-246, 12 miles east of Solvang (north of Santa Barbara on the near- Southern California coast). I was STUNNED to see how they have in just 2 years transformed a "quansett hutt" into a 3 story "Resort and Casino Hotel".

Arriving for play at about 13:00 (afternoon), my goal was to implement my latest improvements to the playing method I first tried at the Chumash, 2 years ago, playing $5 units. Chumash deals a 6-Deck ShuffleMaster "Box" game with no-Surrender and the dealer Draws to Soft-17. Remember that the "Box" games use TWO sets of cards; creating in effect, TWO [unique] Game-Signatures.

This was my first live casino play using the latest improvements to my combination of the Boris Advanced Count (BAC) and some "conventional" Clump-track procedures. Practice play against the Boris for Blackjack software has led me to conclude that I am ready for some low-stakes live casino play.
Winning 35-Units after an hour of play is encouraging, to say the least.

In the past, I have been known to "pop a $20 Bill" and play a $5 or $10 table; rolling it to $220 and then bailing. I've never Lost doing that. For the Chumash game, I cashed in a $50 Bill I got for my birthday; giving me 10 Units. When I received my first Blackjack, I started betting the white chips along with the red; making my betting unit multiples of $6. My average bet was 2 or 3 Units; with 1-Unit bets used for 2-hand evaluations. Luckily, most of my losses were 1-Unit bets. Being hour-old wash cards, my Card-Reading was quite accurate.

After a few wins, I take down a $1 and tip the dealer. I am effectively paying the dealer with the casino's money. In a casino where dealers bring their own toke box to the table, it is "easy" to establish a "working relationship" with the dealer.

Luckily, in the game I chose, both game signatures were 1st-base playable; the number of players averaging 4 or less (altho at one point we had 6 spots in action). I got triple the expectation on Blackjacks, most of my double-downs worked, and my two insurance bets paid off; altho I missed a CRUCIAL even-money call which resulted in a net difference of 16 Units!

The play lasted an HOUR, during which time my bets ranged from 1 to 4 Units; with the exception of stacking up a 4-Unit double-down into an 8-Unit bet (it PUSHed and the Shuffle-card came out - I left the original 4 units up and go a 20 on the 1st hand of the Blue cards).

I effected table-departure when the "Stability" and Dealer-break #'s began to deteriorate. There were PLENTY of playable $5 and $10 (and a couple of $25 games as well), so I could have spent the afternoon hit-N-running the 3 Blackjack pits; except that I had a business meeting in Ojai at 15:30.

Nevertheless, it was a GREAT hit-N-Run play. When the latest Boris 4.43b Release is up on Boris' Download Web-Section and Shipping, I am going to spend a couple of days, practicing the 6-Box game with Boris and make an entire day trip there. That should be coming up in a couple of weeks - Stay TUNed!


Las Vegas Downtown - early December 2003

The "around-the-circle" trip was supposed to have been my "Downtown" trip. Click here to see what actually happened. When the "Downtown" trip does materialize, it will be reported here, possibly from my Hotel Room there. Stay tuned.





Las Vegas "around-the-circle" and North Strip (almost) - early November 2003

The "around-the-circle" trip was supposed to have been my "Downtown" trip. I will make another drive to Vegas in early December to scout the downtown and Vegas-fringe casinos for Boris. Stay Tuned for the report.
Meanwhile, the trip WAS fruitful; ending with a little drama, as I will explain.
I will detail my findings in the order that they occured.

After a Friday nite layover on the E. side of Vegas, I opened Saturday morning with a visit to SAMs Town. They deal a 2-Deck game using 4 (1-Deck pick) riffles with a medium strip after the first one. While the tables offer $3K upper limits, I doubt they will let you spread much to get there.
The real game worth looking into is there ONE table with a PRO-Shuffler machine. They used to have 3 PRO Machines up; not it seems only one. In my mind this game is EASILY shuffle trackable; which is why I was suprised to find 2 or 3 players in these games (same as in years past).
Look for a write-up on this shuffler in and upcoming "Shuffle Machines 101" Article-series in the Shuffle Machine Section of Boris' Website. Look for the PRO Shuffler to debut in the Boris' Blackjack Software in very Early 2004 - after I've "Tested it" of course - Heheheh.
Remember, most of Boris' features were originally written for MY use first.

Arizona Charlies dealt an uneventful $1,000/max 2-Deck game with the same shuffle and penetration as Sams Town.

Boulder Station uses an interest 6-deck like split and deck flop as you might find in an old Harrahs 6-deck game; but this is 2-Deck.
When I add this casino to Boris, we will get a look at wassup with this.

I purposely skipped the new Castaways (either out of laziness or out of defiance for usurping the name from that interesting little hole on the strip (now CRUSHed by the Mirage slabs).

I missed the North Strip last time so I wound my way in to the sleezy back parking lot of the Riviera and commenced to walking. The RIV itself hasn't changed much.
If you like SM-Box games you will be taken care of.
For some tips on beating the "Box" go to the Shuffle Machine Section of Boris' Website.

Across the street, Circus has joined in the carney-Blackjack 6:5 game - like I should be suprised? The only redeeming thing is the almost universal use of the Random Ejection Shuffler for both 6 and 2-deck (real 2 deck, not that phony 2-deck==>8 game many casinos now offer).
Next door, the Slots-A-SlumHole has become a "KING Shop". Unless you have a method for beating the King, stay away. Their $1-Craps table had like 20+ people at it - amazing.

Next door, the HO (Westward HO) has uneventful 2 and 6 deck games using .5-Deck picks don't make up for the 1-Plug and judicious stripping. Doubling ONLY 9-10-11 (in ALL games) is allowed - where're the gamble guys?

Finally, the Stardust is dealing a reasonable 2-deck game with around 65%+ penetration. The stripping is minimal. Their 6-deck game uses that clever technique of shuffling 3-plugs of discards into 3-picks and then performing a V-3 shuffle. I believe this game has some clump-track possibilities.
Shuffle-tracking anyone?

What caught my eye most at the Stardust was the Luck Ladies side-Bet. I have been studying this side-bet for some time. Because I currently combine clump-track play with the Boris Advanced Point count, I may have found a way to exploit its 4-to-1, 9-to-1, 19-to-1 and 125-to-1. The 1000-to-1 payout is highly unlikely, but may be more statistically relevant during "Wash Cards". The downside (or maybe upside?) to this game is that it is dealt from the 2-REJ-8 (Random Ejection Shuffler) machine. Then again, wash cards in such a game might be REAL Interesting - Stay tuned.
I am currently doing background design on a "Plug-in" for Boris' Blackjack Software that will allow me to study Lucky Ladies. When I am satisfied the software is "accurate" (meaning, I have won a sufficient amount of $$$'s in the casinos as well as against the software), I will then offer it up to the PRO+ Edition Boris Users.

My last stop in Vegas was actually meant to be the MIDDLE of my trip. On instinct, I parked my car in the streat-bordering lot at the Gold Coast and hopped across to the Palms. As you come in, you are met by a slew of Blackjack table, most offering Luck Ladies. I found 6-Box games, the usual Stutter+S-Thru shoe games and a $100 2-Deck R-S5-R2; preceeded by a plug Top/Bottom (have you ever noticed that Plug-T/B doesn't actually change the cards?).

As I was watching the $100 game, a lady pit boss scrutinized me and then hit the telephone. I've been doing this long enough - I know the next scenario.
Within 5 minutes I was approached by muscular goon backed-up by a barrel-chested goon; both dressed completely in black. "Can we talk to you a moment?". They said a "complaint has been raised" about my being there. There was no complaint other than the pit boss. Were they worried I might scare off the nicely dressed black man (transl. sucker) betting $100 - $500? Was I on camera as I studied each game? Did they think I was part of a Blackjack Team (ala the M.I.T. Group)? I'll probably never know.
They said I could "watch" the game from the upper railing behind the pit walkway. I told them that in that case there was no point in staying and quickly turned and walked calmly but briskly to the door; wheedling my way thru valet car line completely blocking the crosswalk - (can you say muni/fire-violation?)
I took the crosswalk to the Gold Coast where I found nothing exciting; the usual 6-Deck and 6-Box gasmes. 2-Deck is a ho-hum R2-S5-R2 affair with questionable penetration.

After the little hijinks at the Palms I decided I had wasted enough time in Vegas and headed back to Southern California to finish cleaning my mom's old mobile home (escrow closes next week). My last stop on the trip back was Nevada Landing. They deal an interesting V-4 shuffle with 0.25-Deck picks and a tempting Lucky Ladies game. When I update this casino in Boris (N.L. has been there from the beginning), I will begin studying what their shuffle can do fo us. Look for an article on that.

Well folks, that's it for this trip. It did not at all go the way I expected; and yet, I learned a tremendous amount. More fun to come this year - stay tuned.


Las Vegas Strip - late October 2003

I've spent a number of weeks helping with the orchestration of my mom's move from So. California to San Jose. After that was complete, I took a flight to Vegas and and spent 3 days PAL'ing around with a woman friend as I showed her the fine "Art" of Boris Casino Scouting for Boris' Blackjack Software.

First off, the Vegas Strip itself is constantly changing. Mandalay Bay is adding another tower. Rumours abound that the TROP will soon be imploded - I will miss their ornate ceiling. The Strip meat-market disco is already history. Caesars has restructured HALF of their Forum Shop area and made a Blackjack and Craps pit there. They are designing a new shop complex at the old entrance(right next to the entrance that the Mirage originally put next to THEIR entrance).
Wynn's new property looks about 1/2 finished. It sure looks to be a Wynner.

Blackjack Game wise It was SLIM Pickings...

Virtually every strip casino now offers 6-to-5 Single-Deck (and some 2-deck games too). To get away from 6-5 handheld games you have to play $25, $50 or $100 games. Even the venerated Ballys has stooped to this. BTW, watchout for the "2-Deck" games dealt from a continuous 8-Deck Random Ejection Shuffler - they are NOT what they seem. Down the road look for this shuffle machine variation in Boris' Blackjack Software.

The Imperial Palace once again has a beatable shuffle, but STAY AWAY from their "party pit" games - unless you are there to drink/party and lose money. One party pit is all king shufflers. For those who think you can beat the King, this might be worth checking out.

Harrahs as cut their table selection back, except $25+ tables. Their noisy party-pit is either KING's or 8-Deck. Next door the Casino Royale is mostly gimmick games, altho they DO still have $.25 Roulette - the $.25 Craps (with 100X Odds even) seems to be gone.

Altho "BOX" games abound, the Venetian is also back to Hand Shuffling. The King shufflers there are merely a memory. True to form tho, the best table selection there is at the $25+ tables, with the $50 tables seeming to have the best offerings, if you like 3 player games.

I currently feel the best hand shuffle opportunities can be had at the I/P, Venitian, Aladdin (8-Deck) and Excalibur (6-Deck, with unfortunately a 3-Plug); altho you have to look for 2-3 player games. Next best games can be found at the MGM, Ballys (if you enjoy 8-Deck) and Bellagio (if you play $100+)

Luxor is completely a ShuffleMaster BOX House. There are people who do well against the BOX. For some insight into playing the BOX go to the Shuffle Machine Section of Boris' Website. The Mandalay Bay has a playable Stutter Shuffle game, along with a pit of QuickDraw machines. Thanks to recently-obtained patent diagrams, look for the KING Shuffler and Quickdraw (now also owned by ShuffleMaster) in Boris soon.

NY-NY is still dealing the 2-Box game. They seem to like that. Their hand-shuffled game is a ho-hum Stutter + S-Thru. "Next door" the Monte Carlo is still dealing their half-hearted games: 8-Decks in the front (when open), 6 in the back; altho they also have a lot of BOX's as well. I did find some good hit-N-run possibilities there tho.
The Boardwalk has been the house of KING for over a year now - BOR-ing. The San Remo has been BOR-ing for about 8 years now; altho I hear the Sushi is good.

Treasure Island is all KINGs as is much of the Mirage. I like their 4A.M. Wash. The only thing Caesars Palace has going for it these daze, is Cleopatra's barge, altho I find it "difficult" to dance to rap music; which is largely what the band was playing the night we were there.

Leaving town, I made my obligatory visit to the Gamblers Book shop. As usual, Howard Schwartz was full of interesting tid-bits to share. A few of those bits are the motivation behind some new articles for Boris' Website.

For my upcoming "Downtown" trip, I will also include the North-end of the Strip and the LV Hilton. Stay Tuned.


Palm Springs / Indio trip - Easter - 2003

For Easter 2003, I spent some time with my mother in Corona, sandwhiched by a stay at Russ's condo, with Ed, another PRO-level Blackjack player. I mainly tagged-along to casino scout and observe Russ in some higher-stakes play. The time I chose to back-line Russ's bet's was when the tables turned into a semi-choppy-game. Playing another hand at the table (instead of backlining would probably have been a better move, to give more of a card-read).
Wash cards at the Augua Caliente are OUTSTANDing to play against; except that the tables tend to fill up within 10 minutes after opening. Nevertheless, 10-minutes here and there can add up.
At Ed's suggestion, I have modified a couple of the card-values in the BorisAPC to make a new count: the BorisAPC2. Some blind-simulation runs with the Boris for Blackjack Simulation Software with the new PRO+ Edition will allow me to fine-tune this.

I didn't make it to Trump 29 or Fantasy Springs this trip, but have been informed that the shuffle/wash combinations have not changed since my last report.

Atlantic City Mini-trip - March 24,2003

The first week of Spring found me in the Philly area, attending a wedding, hanging out with friends and a min-trip to Atlantic City on Monday, the 24th. SweetKitten (from our Blackjack Team practice) accompanied me and we hit every casino in town.
Conditions have not changed at Harrahs or Trump Marina, except that Trump took out the Streak-Bet - just when I was beginning to think I had a way to beat it.
All of the Multi-Action and Double-Exposure games have run their course in A.C., except at the Trump TAJ, where they have one of each.
The tic-tac-toe playing chicken is no longer.... Awwwww...
Trump Plaza is PACKED as usual.... $25 tables in the day were considered low-stakes - and this was on a MONDAY!
Harrahs, Showboat (owned by Harrahs) and now Resorts are using the dual box-card order. It DOES make a difference.
At Resort's (one of my Blackjack plays in A.C.) I picked up 55 units at 2 Blackjack tables; the second table playing two hands off of wash cards. The floor supervisor asked to rate my play. When he looked me up in the database he prolly saw the record of my complaint to the Casino Control Comission a couple of years back (when I filed a complaint for not being allowed to WATCH a low-stakes game in the high-stakes room (a single-player 2-spot Blackjack table). Back then, I contended I was being barred (not allowed in New Jersey). The CCC shuttled me to the Shift Manager who bought me off with a comp; noting the complaint in the database).
Needless to say, no body much cared about my Hit-N-Run play.
At the first table, an asian girl droped out when she saw me hit a 7-7 against a 5. That gave me a 3 player game - the only way I could have made that win. Who ever you are girl... THANK YOU!

Lastly, be fore-warned.... the "Dread" V-Shuffle is back at several casinos on the boardwalk. These games are clump-track beatable with 3 or less players.
Also.... sadly... the Claridge no longer offers Surrender.


Temecula Indian Casinos - Feb/March 2003

My mother lives in Corona Calif; less than an hour from the Indian Casinos along Hwy-76, where you can find: Pechanga, Pala, Pauma, Harrahs Rincon and Valley View. The Soboba is also in the area, near Beaumont but you have to drive thru the Scientology Hills to get there. If you make the mistake of stopping along that (public) road to take pictures of their blue buildings and sailing schooner (yes, built around a swimming pool in the desert), don't be suprised to find yourself surrounded by Scientology Goon-Robots (Security) trying to intimidate you. I simply honked a U-Turn and GOT THE HELL outta THERE!.
While the above casinos all offer non-vigorish games; there is a LARGE influx of King Shufflers and some ShuffleMaster BOX's.

The Pauma casino has several Kard Craps tables - a regulation size craps table dealt with cards instead of dice (dice games are illegal in Calif.) with the addition of a 40-to-1 Joker bet. Considering the way the KING SHuffler does NOT intertwine the cards, that Joker bet might be a money maker.

While these casinos are all close by, I have not fouond the games to be very "interesting", with the exception of one game with a side-bet which I am looking into. I will report back on my success with it later this year.

Laughlin Nevada - Nov. 27 - 29, 2002

My mother and I made a little trip to "the River" (Laughlin) staying at Harrah's (up on the hill) November 27 - 29, during the Thanksgiving holiday. Quite reasonable room rates and food selection can be had in Laughlin; even at this time of year. While the $119 for two nights was pricey by Laughlin's standards, the room was top-notch and overall worth it.

While there are things I like about Laughlin (an excellent Brew-Pub at the Colorado Belle and a quiet casino environment at the Golden Nugget), overall there are not a lot of shoe games to choose from; except the Colorado Belle, Golden Nugget and Harrahs. The rest of the games are either "specialty games" or 1 and 2 deck games with so-so penetration.

I managed a 2nd place in the prelimenaries of a mini-Blackjack Tournament at the Colorado Belle but did not make it to the final round. I am musing some ideas on how to make money at this mini-tournament. I may well write an article about it AFTER I succeed - Heheheh.

The Golden Nugget and Colorado Belle continue to have some of the best shoe games in Laughlin. The Edgewater has an interesting shoe game, but there were not enough tables open; except at about 2AM where I made some quick bucks. They also have a 25-Cent craps (like used to be found at Casino Royale in Vegas) if you like to fool around for low-stakes.

Harrahs continues to be the upper-level of Casino/Hotel action in Laughlin. They even sport a small non-smoking pit; where I did most of my play. You can find a good 6-Deck game there, deeply dealt 2-deck and a couple of ShuffleMaster 8-Box games. I won $$'s at all but the 2-deck (which I did not play).
The main pit has the usual sucker games (including the continuous 2-REJ-8 games) along with a plethora of Random Ejection Shuffled (REJ) 6-deck games.
I played the 6-deck REJ games in the morning before the non-smoking pit opened (at 10 a.m.). Those certainly seemed to be some of the most CLUMPed cards I have seen anywhere; especially for a [sic] Random Shuffler. This seems to confirm reports I have received from other players about sucessfully using PBJ against these "clumped" REJ machine games. I am begining some practice play with Boris to confirm this. Look for an article on beating the REJ machines soon in the Shuffle Machines Section of Boris' Blackjack Website.


Indio/Palm Springs casinos - Nov. 7, 2002
My first visit to this area was in May 2002 to attend the Trump 29 grand opening and scout the other casinos as well.
Depending upon your point-of-view, conditions at Trump 29 have either imporved or gone down. As you may know, my latest Blackjack bitch is that we keep losing tables to "sucker" games. Trump 29 is no exception.
This late-morning/early-afternoon trip found a Double Exposure game as well as a couple of 6:5 single-deck games. They offer double-deck with DDAS, but allow only one split (card counters LOVE to split, in high counts). They also had a complex explanation on the game placcard that essentially says "no mid-pack entry" - they're just covering their tracks.
Trump 29 uses a 4-zone .5-deck pick shuffle (Riffle-2, Strip-4, Riffle), which if I understand my shuffle-tracking basics, may well be a trackable shuffle. This of course raises the barring issue (to my knowledge, untested in Calif.).
I went to Trump there to scout and not play, so I purposely brought little cash. I lost 6-units ($30) to counteract the $10 I won earlier at the Soboba. Had I been adequately bankrolled, those noon wash-cards would have indeed been playable. With 6-units backing I merely took a shot. There were only a handful of 6-deck games open at 2:30 in the afternoon, so Hit-n-Run was out. Probably, the time for Hit-n-Run at Trump is when new tables are opened about 5:00 or 6:00.

Speaking of the Soboba Indian Res. (nestled in Scientology country in the hills outside of Beaumont Ca.) they have about a dozen tables in the back of the casino. The table minimums averaged more towards $25, but those tables were reasonable empty; making it a good clump-track opportunity - IF you don't mind playing against the ShuffleMaster BOX. One of the dealers informed me that new cards are brought in at the beginning of the day. All the tables were open so I don't expect any mid-day washes there. If that changes, I'll let you know.
The Fantasy Springs Casino had excellently -clumped cards at 4:00 in the afternoon. All tables use a ShuffleMaster BOX. Luckily, the Boris-for-Blackjack Software can simulate SMBox, giving you adequate practice before playing in such games.
The Agua Caliente outside of Palm Springs and SPA Hotel in downtown Palm Springs are both owned by the Agua Caliente Indian tribe, altho they have hired in outside casino management; if memory serves, Park Place Entertainment. I wasn't surprised to see the Caesars Palace shuffle (Stutter(7) with an S-Thru(4) done as Strip-4, Riffle). We can reasonable assume they use the same Caesars Wash (each deck Riffled twice).
I was suprised/not-suprised to see relatively high table minimums at the SPA Hotel, although if you are into double-deck, they $25 game seems promising. (I dunno what kind of spread they will tolerate tho.)

That's what I saw on Thursday. I expect these reservations to make their way into an upgrade3 of Boris' Casino Database before the month is out. Stay Tuned.

Paiute Palace - Bishop California - Oct. 3 & 7, 2002
This is the 3rd consequtive October that I have participated in the W6ML [ham] radio-expedition event known as CQP (the California Qso Party) from Mammoth Lakes. Because Mammoth is just north of Bishop and the gas/food on the Paiute reservation are the best value around, it makes sense to make a pit-stop there. Enroute to Mammoth I won 15 units in a short-but-sweet session. Returning from Mammoth I gave back 12 units of the previous win in 2 short sessions, before and after lunch.
True to clump-card form, the dealers were drawing 5, 6 & even 7 card winning hands, way beyond expectancy. This simply means that one must "hit harder" in order to push more hands (instead of losing them). It would seem that in todays shoe games, whichever side can eek an increase in the push-rate, simultaneously reduces their loss rate by approximately that amount. Another caveat to this game is the dealer hitting Soft-17. Because of the over-clumping of A's and low-cards in the Paiute games, the dealers seem to pull out more soft hands than is statistically expected; again, meaning we need to hit more assertively. In this game Basic Strategy is correct in recommending hitting A-7 against high cards - we need that extra win once in awhile.
One thing noteable about the Paiute Palace is the fact that each dealer "owns" their own toke box. When a dealer change occurs, so does the toke box; implying that the dealers get to keep their own tips. The younger dealers seemed to offer a slight penetration increase after some noticeable toking on my part during the previous shoe. They also made sure to hand-signal the incoming dealer as to who the tokers are. The older dealers seemed not to notice or to not care.


Las Vegas - Sept. 22 - 24, 2002
This short excursion allowed me to accomplish several things in one jaunt. I drove to Vegas on Sunday morning ariving just in time for the Patterson-sponsored Blackjack seminar, where the main topic was tournament play. Afterwardsw, I was invited to give a short talk on shuffles, shuffle machines and how they impact the game of Blackjack; which of course opened the door to discus the shuffle machine simulations found in the Boris for Blackjack simulation software.

I stayed at the Imperial Palace but had to skip the wash cards on Sunday evening in order to drive to the Summerlin area of Vegas for a Patterson instructor party. A number of interesting people attended that evening, making for an enjoyable time.
Returning to my hotel room at 10:00, after some fresh air I made a my way down to the casino to scout for playable tables. All tables were $5+ minimum which helped keep the player count down to a playable level. Assuming that wash cards were introduced around 18:00 (6 Pm), the wash clumping had probably shuffled out by 10:30.
Coming into a 2-3 player table, I managed to win about 20 units before the table cleared out and the dealer began to "blind card" me (i.e. to not expose the holecard if I broke before she played her hand). My play had already been scrutinized by a not-happy looking floorperson. Time to switch tables. I found a table in the north pit and managed to pick up another 35 units at a table stocked with several attractive women. It has been ages since I found a pair of playable 1st-base games at the I/P.
With my win intact, I paid cash for another nite's stay (who needs comps when you can win the money "quietly"?) and hit the center-strip to catch-up pn the game changes at nearby casinos.
I found no other playable games except a couple of $10 tables at Harrahs which continued to swing back and forth (win-wise) before I eventually bailed; a $40 loser. The message was clear: time to buy some local newspapers (to keep up on what's happening), grab some dinner and call it a night.

Monday was my day to drop in at the Gambler's book shop, the Gambler's General Store and then casino scout the downtown casinos. Enroute to downtown, I realized I hadn't scouted the L.V. Hilton, swinging by there first. The Hilton never gives me any hassle except for this play session. I came into 1st-base at a table where a conventioneer had just bought in for his 2nd or 3rd $300, promptly losing it in a hurry. The pit personal were staring our table down, which I assummed had something to do with the guy's green chip play. When he quickly bailed, the scrutiny continued. After losing 8-units ( a total swing of around 15+ units) I bailed, continuing to table scout.
I found another 1st-base game which lasted a little longer, but was almost as bad as the previous table. The heat at this table was even worse. I am beginning to think Kenny Uston is right - we seem to get MORE heat when we are losing then when we are winning - because we play harder. In this game, because of the card-read, I was making multi-unit doubles and splits. The first couple worked wonderful - the rest were all out-drawn by a number of 20 & 21 dealer-hands.
The message was clear - the Hilton was not my casino for that day - time to head downtown.

Continuing a downtown tradition, I stopped in at the Fremont to have one of those gigantic shrimp cocktails - some quick enerhy food. Because the Fremont has so few BJ tables, the place is always paced. The only shoe games were blessed with KING Shufflers - time to move on. I found an exploitable shuffle at the Main Street station, but there were only 2 tables (it was afternoon) and they already had 5 players apiece. My scouting took me through virtually every casino downtown ending up at the Golden Nugget where I found a number of playable tables and picked one.
My table selection at the Golden Nugget could not have been better. A high-spirited 35 minute play netted me 35 units and put the Golden Nugget on my Casino Favorites list.


Chumash Indian Casino - Sept. 14, 2002
I've received several favorable reports about the 6-Deck ShuffleMaster BOX games at this casino just east of Solvang (north of Santa Barbara) on the near- southern California coast. I was restless for a semi-mountainous drive, so I took a circuitous route to get there. Arriving for play at about 2:30 in the afternoon, my goal was to win $160 (playing $5 units) to purchase a new computer motherboard replacing my archaic AMD-500 with an AMD 1900+.
The result: I bought in for $50 ($30 + $20) and cashed out at $204.

This was my first live casino play using a unique combination of the Boris Advanced Count (BAC) and my "conventional" Clump-track procedures. Home BJ table practice and play against the Boris for Blackjack software led me to conclude that a low-stakes live casino play is next in order.
Overall I've done well against the ShuffleMaster BOX. However, when you are used to playing against a hand shuffled game, it is easy to forget that the SMBox game presents two game signatures, from two different set of cards.
Luckily, in the game I chose, both game signatures were 1st-base playable; the number of players averaging 4 or less (altho a 5th player showed up and was blown-out immediately).

Table departure (like table selection) is one of the most important aspects of beating SMBox - i.e. knowing when to jump in and when to bail; relative to your available bankroll. The lustful side of me argued that we should keep playing, that we MIGHT win more. The more practical side prevailed and I was back on the road in 90 minutes with my 30+ unit win intact, a renewed confidence that card-counting and Clump-tracking CAN viably co-exist and $154 toward the new motherboard which is now the heart of my new software development computer creation. My up-coming Vegas trip will bear out the validity of my newly found confidence.


Las Vegas - June 24 - 26, 2002
This trip was mainly a party trip with my friend Penfold, with an excuse to engage in some casino scouting in preparation for the upcoming Boris 4.40 release. I joined Penfold at the Imperial Palace (I/P) sharing an 18 story room overlooking the pool. One advantage to this room is that we got to watch the weekly Luau show (setup around the pool) for free, saving us $30 apiece (in my opinion it ain't worth the $30).
The Blackjack tables at the I/P were horribly crowded, so we played elsewhere - me Blackjack, him craps.
Penfold convinced me to join him on the roller coaster and the "SureShot" atop the Stratosphere so we took a taxi there and later walked over to the Sahara to explore their $1 Blackjack games, before a taxi ride back to the I/P for a late dinner.

Gambling-wise, the Stratosphere (formerly Vegas World) is an "amazing" place. After a somewhat long absence, I found the Double Exposure and Crapless Craps games are back (whatever happened to "Polish Roulette"?). I played some $3 hands at a 12 seat Blackjack table (luckily with only 3 other players), couldn't get anywhere and bailed. I found Penfold playing at the Crapless Craps table (he hadn't noticed the difference) and chided him for chosing such a casino-favorable game (the house edge on the passline is DOUBLE that of conventional craps). The shooter then made his point. Penfold scooped his chips and cashed out. Hmmmm.... He just got lucky - Heheheh.


Pala and Pechanga casinos - May 2002
Because the Pechanga is the first casino enroute south, I stopped there to check the action out, winning a "whopping" $60 in the process.

While I like the ambience of the Pala casino (near Temecula, enroute from Corona to San Diego, in So. California), the place is a damn slot parlour! The Blackjack tables are either stocked with King Shufflers (at the lower stakes tables) or the SM Box (in the higher stakes games) - there were no hand-shuffled games. The only low-stakes SMBox game was Baccarat. I've played here before and run into the same situation. I attempted a few hit-and-run attempts against the King-Shufflers, dropping $40 in the process. My Net-$ for the day is $20; half of which I spend on lunch.