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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.

The observation of casino conditions was done in June 2012. Casinos visited include:



Isle of Capri



It has been over a year since my last report on the Kansas City area casinos, and so an update seems warranted. Since my last report, the first new casino to the area was opened since the 1990s-Hollywood Casino in early 2012. What follows is an updated report on blackjack at the existing four Kansas City casinos, including the new Hollywood casino.


The existing four casinos in the greater Kansas City area are Harrahs, Ameristar, Argosy, and Isle of Capri (they are all located on the Missouri side of the state line). The Kansas City, Missouri 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 a car is required to get from one casino to another casino.

The New Casino-Hollywood

The State of Kansas got tired of seeing gambling dollars go east to Missouri, and so around 2008–before the Great Recession–the State hatched plans for a casino on the West side of Kansas City, Kansas near the Kansas Speedway. When the economy tanked, there were serious concerns whether the casino would ever open, but finally in early 2012, Hollywood Casino opened and offered Kansas residents an option to play on the Kansas side. Hollywood Casino has the reputation as being one of the most hostile and intolerant casinos in the south to players with the audacity to have a rudimentary understanding of probability and use this knowledge while playing blackjack. Therefore, I was hoping this casino might be different, since it was a joint venture with the Kansas Lottery Commission and Hollywood, and the fact that this casino is in the "Free State" (Kansas), so-called because specifically abolitionists before the Civil War established it.

So far, I am disappointed to see that the "Free State" state appears to be less progressive than our neighboring rival Missouri-at least as far as rules to protect the blackjack player with an understanding of probability from being discriminated against.

In practice, there is not much difference between the card counter formally being "told no more blackjack for you" and the casino taking countermeasures such as preferential shuffling, reducing table limits, and/or reduced penetration. These countermeasures can make it impossible for even the best card counter from gaining an advantage. Still, one of the features I like about the blackjack in Missouri (Kansas City being the second biggest market behind St. Louis) is that the Missouri Gaming Commission has explicit rules that prohibit the casino from barring or refusing to deal blackjack to a card counter. Even if the casino reduces the penetration to about 30% on a double-deck blackjack game, (a level where a card counter cannot gain an advantage over the house), I like the fact that it is my decision–not the casino making the decision for me–to not play blackjack.

I was unable to figure out if there are any regulations under the Kansas Gaming Commission related to card counting, despite my efforts to contact the Commission via email. And after waiting for the long-awaited casino to open in my home state, it appears my blackjack time at the Hollywood will be short...

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