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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 four 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.

In my 15 years counting cards, it is increasingly difficult to find casinos that offer decent blackjack conditions without taking countermeasures and/or asking me not to play. Through May 31, 2011, I had only logged about 20 hours of blackjack in 2011. Compare this to some of my peak years when I logged as many as 250. My difficulties are due to an aggressive bet spread and general refusal to make cover plays that some card counters recommend to disguise a card counterís skill.

If I could do things different, in general, I would change very little. If you want to make money counting cards, you have to get the big bets out at the right times. However, I identified one casino a few years ago where I realized too late that using a less aggressive bet spread and some cover might have been a wiser approach.

My experiences at this Midwestern Indian casino are described below.

Visit 1

I found the rules decent and the penetration good: they offered the standard dd, das, and no rsa that has a house advantage of about 0.40%. Penetration ranged from about 55-75%. Overall, itís a very good game. I started with a spread in the range of $50-500, varying my off-the-top bets to offer a little disguise. I detected no heat on the first visit.

Visits 2-5

I increased my max bet up to about $800 with some bet variation off-the-top. Eventually, I bumped my maximum bet up to $1000. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view), on the last two visits, I was destroyed, dropping about $10,000 on each visit.

Visits 6-20

I decided to give up all pretenses; I essentially used a table minimum to table maximum spread- $25 to 1000. I was still getting no heat, and at the same time:

  • I started winning, slowly digging out of my deep hole.
  • I started getting huge "free cash offers," some as much as $250.
  • I started cashing my "Casino Bucks" (points for table) and received several hundred dollars each time.

I started taking a closer look at these "Casino Bucks". I asked a casino host and determined that the Bucks were supposed to be awarded at a rate of $0.0010 per dollar bet at the table. The Bucks could not be cashed, but you could play them at the table for cash value; therefore, they were essentially equal to cash.

To top it off, they had bonus "Bucks" on Tuesday (and occasionally they would mail out Bonus Bucks coupons), where they offered 2x points for silver card, 4x points for gold, and 6x for diamond. I quickly got to the gold tier. If I could reach diamond, I could get a full...

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