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by Riverboat Flyer

Riverboat Flyer is a low-stakes blackjack player who usually uses a small bet spread to reduce sort-term variance but takes advantage of casino comps. He plays the southern Ohio riverboats along with frequent trips to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, and occasionally Lake Tahoe. He has been counting cards for over ten years, using the Hi-Op, High Low and currently the half-count system.


Note: The observations of casino playing conditions were made in July 2010. Casino’s covered include:

Gold Strike






It was off to Tunica for another six days of blackjack. My last trip to Tunica ended in the red (see trip report in BJI issue #126). I decided to use a slightly more aggressive bet spread most of the time to take advantage of the few good shoes that come my way. Tunica appears to be hurting and the signs are everywhere: tables and buffets that used to be full are half empty, the diner at Hollywood closes at 2:00 pm on weekdays, and the table games at Resorts are completely closed from 3:00 am to 10:00 am.

Day One

After driving most of the day, I arrived at the Gold Strike and sat down at a six- deck shoe game. My first session left me up $135 after three hours of play, spreading 1 to 5 units on a $5 game. I went up early in the session and then held my own for the last two hours.

Day Two

I put in an early morning session at the Gold Strike at a $5 shoe game. The count did not vary much. I managed an $81 win, spreading 1 to 3 over an hour. I left when the table filled up.

After breakfast, it was off to Hollywood. A 1.5 hour session at a six-deck game yielded a $187 win. I never had a bad shoe and slowly built my bankroll the entire session.

I headed over to Bally’s, a casino I had not played at in awhile. It turns out I had not missed much. Bally’s was dingy, shopworn, and smoky. At mid-day on a weekday, they had three 21 tables open: a six-deck game, a double-deck game, and a single-deck game. I was just about to buy in at the single-deck game when I thought to ask some questions and discovered naturals paid even money. I skipped the single-deck game and played the six-deck game instead. After playing an hour and a half, I netted a loss of $147, spreading 1 to 4. My doubles just did not work out for me.

I went back at the Gold Strike and played another $5 six-deck game. This table featured a player that thought she knew everything about blackjack, and was not shy about sharing her knowledge. As is typical of this type of player, she did not know basic strategy and was afraid to hit a stiff. I drew her ire initially when I hit a soft 18 and drew a 10 against a dealer 10. The dealer then flipped up a 2, and hit her 12 with an 8. A few hands later I hit a 12 against a dealer 3 and drew an 8. This really pissed her off because she had stood on a 12, passing up the 8. She knew she should hit and didn’t, so she was mad at me for making the right play.

Tunica seems to have an abundance of players that pay more attention to my hand than their own hand. Unfortunately, my session did not go well. I slowly lost $155 over three hours, spreading 1 to 4 units. The count stayed neutral or negative most of the time. The few times the count went up, I did not get the cards I needed.

Day Three

I started out the day with an early morning session, which turned out to be one of those sessions that make this game both frustrating and fun. I was playing at a $5 six-deck game for 15 minutes and then the relief dealer showed up. The guy next to me mentioned that the relief dealer wiped him out at her last session at the table.

After a couple of hands, the count went up and I started winning almost every hand...

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