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by JPB

JPB has been playing blackjack and counting cards part-time since 1996. He plays throughout the country but primarily in Missouri. He has been a Green Chip member of for six years and one-time winner of the Post-of-the-Month. JPB is a professional engineer with three engineering degrees and works as a consulting engineer.

Casinos covered in this Report:




Isle of Capri



I have been playing at the Kansas City, Missouri casinos off-and-on for about 13 years. It has been a few years since publishing my last report, and so now it seemed like an appropriate time for an update.

Since my last report, not much has changed with regard to blackjack conditions, but a change going back to the November 2008 elections has made the conditions much better for the high stakes card counter, particularly the out-of-towner.

The Missouri casinos had to incorporate a peculiar $500 loss limit to appease the anti-gambling coalition when gambling was legalized in Missouri in the early 1990s. The $500 loss limit meant that a player could only buy in for $500 every two hours. The loss limit remained in effect until the November 2008 election when a measure was placed and passed on the Missouri ballot.

The $500 loss limit failed its goal to curb compulsive gamblers. It was pointed out in the November 2008 debate that compulsive gamblers overwhelmingly indicated that the $500 loss limit did nothing to curb their gambling. Casino patrons were allowed a $500.00 maximum buy-in every two hour block of time. The compulsive gambler could still go to 4 casinos in a day and lose up to $6000 at each. The loss limit did have a few undesirable consequences:

  • Discouraging potential high-dollar players. The neighboring casinos in Iowa, Kansas, and Mississippi clearly exploited these limitations at the Kansas City casinos in their marketing. With only $500 in chips, it was difficult for many players to make large bets.
  • The loss limit made conditions difficult for the card counter.
    • The buy-in limit had an obvious drawback for the card counter. For a 10-1 spread at a $25 table, the counter can quickly lose all his chips. Get a pair of 8s against a dealer 6, and obviously the correct play is to split. But not if you have already bought in for $500 and do not have any chips left. Money play was prohibited. Hording chips helped, but this strategy required a big investment in chips if one wanted to play at multiple casinos. Overcoming the loss limit was more difficult for the out-of-town counter as not only was an investment in money required but also a time commitment to amass a collection of chips.
    • A less obvious drawback of the loss limit was that low-stakes, low-spread bettors were the norm for the non-counter. The "typical" players, those that the counter would like to blend in with, just did not fluctuate bets- they could not afford to with these buy-in limits. This issue made the card counter, with drastic bet fluctuations, stick out like a sore thumb in Kansas City- more so than at other cities.


There are a total of four casinos in the greater Kansas City area: Harrahs, Ameristar, Argosy, and Isle of Capri. The Kansas City casinos are all located in the north part of the K.C. metro area and all within about 15 miles of each other. No two casinos are within three miles of each other so that casino hopping is possible, but the logistics are not like Las Vegas where one can find a casino next door.

Kansas City Casino Blackjack Conditions

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