LAS VEGAS BLACKJACK REPORT:
LAS VEGAS HILTON, STRATOSPHERE, and RIVIERA
by Stu D. Hoss
Stu D. Hoss is a recently retired Air Force aviator. He has visited and served in over 40 countries including flying combat missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Most of it under the guise of keeping the world safe for democracy, better blackjack, and for a few other personal reasons. He has been playing blackjack for almost 20 years and cut his teeth on the tables of South Lake Tahoe during flight training in Northern CA. Mr. Hoss uses basic strategy and the HiLo count method to give himself a chance against the house edge. He currently resides in NV and is weighing his options for a second career.
The observations of casino conditions were made in October 2011. The casinos visited in Las Vegas include:
Las Vegas Hilton
With the summer pool season ending, the sweltering Vegas heat subsiding, and the Major League Baseball playoffs in full gear, the days on the October calendar are rapidly clicking by. I decided, therefore, to venture out and explore three of the casinos on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip: the Las Vegas Hilton, the Riviera, and the Stratosphere. By mid-month, visions of Oktoberfest beers, Halloween ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, as well as football point spread winners filled the dessert air. I hoped I would find more Treats than Tricks in my casino adventures.
Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 S. Paradise Road
In the mid- to late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Las Vegas Hilton (LVH) was one of my central headquarters for Vegas visits for several years. Things change and I haven’t played there in many years. The primary reason was the casino had become unplayable for me, and the players club perks weren’t much. Now when I think LVH, I think of the "Best of Las Vegas" award-winning Race and Sports SUPERBOOK.
The LVH sports book is the largest in the world, with over 30,000 square feet, more than 300 seats, 28 giant screens, and one massive 15’ X 20’ screen. The LVH is purported to boast the largest wagering menu in the state of Nevada. On Thursdays from 3pm to 11pm during football season, they offer college and NFL games at -105 versus the standard -110. This is where our story begins.
As I left the SUPERBOOK and walked past the buffet, then past the cashier’s cage into the LVH’s main casino, I noticed the table games were relatively full. There had been two college football games on this night, which brings a few extra people into the casino area, and several folks were wearing identification badges denoting they were conference or tradeshow attendees (LVH has always attracted the business and convention crowd with it’s proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center and international brand). The LVH has two full table game pits, plus three craps tables and a stand-alone Big 6 Wheel. They also feature a high limit area.
What I will call pit number one (closest to the restrooms and the casino cage), I observed fifteen total tables with a wide variety of games. They included: one Pai Gow Poker table, a Three-Card Poker table, an Ultimate TX Hold ‘Em table, one Let It Ride table, two Roulette wheels, and nine Blackjack tables. The blackjack offerings were a hodge-podge at best. Double-deck and 6-deck games offer 3/2 for blackjacks, no surrender, dealer hits soft 17s (h17), double on any first two cards (doa), double after splits (das) and aces can be re-split up to four hands. There is also a Lucky Ladies side bet options on some tables that pay 3/2 for a King/Queen two-card combination.
There were two double-deck games in pit number one with $25 to $3,000 table limits. I watched a couple shuffles and penetration appeared to be...
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