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by KC Brooks

I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revere’s "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revere’s Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas}, playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I haven’t had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off.

Casinos visited during June include:




Colorado Belle


Golden Nugget

South of Las Vegas where Nevada, California, and Arizona collide lays an oasis, bordered by rugged desert, and the mighty Colorado River. Roughly, an hour and a half drive from Vegas, you’ll find eleven casinos in the city of Laughlin, NV. Nine are located within three miles of one another, scattered along the banks of the Colorado River. Collectively, the Riverside, Aquarius, Edgewater, Colorado Belle, Pioneer, Golden Nugget, and River Palms casinos attract over three million visitors annually. Harrah’s is about half a mile south of these casinos, and it is the only resort with a private beach. The other casinos are connected by the river walk trail. It winds along the backsides of the casinos, ending at the River Palms casino. What’s unique, if you don’t like walking, is the fleet of water taxis that ferry passengers between casinos. The boats operate from 9 am to 10 pm weekdays and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. The cost for this service is $4 one-way or $20 for the day.

I made reservations for a Monday and Tuesday, opting to stay at Harrah’s because of their beach. I arrived around noon, and checked into the North Tower. I inserted the key card into the door on the seventeenth floor and entered a clean, cool, spacious room containing a king size bed, a 42-inch flat-screen TV, and a desk. Harrah's has 1,505 rooms, which includes 170 suites, all beautifully decorated in a south-of -the-border decor. As for dining, Harrah's offers the usual corporate crap: McDonald's, Cinnabon, and Starbucks. The Beach Cafe was a Godsend, offering fresh quality food with impeccable service twenty-four hours a day. If you are interested in climbing a few rungs of the culinary ladder, The Ranch Steakhouse offers real USDA Prime beef.

There are two swimming pools, an adult only and a family "c-ment" pond. Add the beach to the mix and Harrah’s seems to be the ideal destination for a family.

I spent most of the afternoon relaxing on the beach. Watercraft rentals are available at about a C-note per hour. I was surprised how many people were at Harrah's, although they were mainly slot players and seniors. I was told that Harrah's flies people in from all over the world. This is a great PR move, even if most don’t gamble, at least that’s what a couple of employees told me.

After a late lunch, I spent the rest of the day scouting the other casinos. (Tropicana Express, River Palms, and Avi were the only casinos I did not set foot in.) I also traveled exclusively by water taxi, which meant I was back at Harrah’s around 10 pm. The only playable game when I returned was a double-deck game with h17. Penetration was roughly 60 percent, so I opted for bed.

As for the gaming, the house rules for double-deck games are...

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