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by Riverboat Flyer

Riverboat Flyer is a low-stakes blackjack player. 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.

Casinos visited in this two-part report include:


Gold Strike
Samís Town


Beau Rivage
Treasure Bay
Hard Rock
Golden Nugget


Island View

Editorís Note: I recommend at least a 1 to 8-10 aggressive betting spread for card counters playing a six-deck game and at least a 1 to 4-5 spread in a double-deck game in order to get a healthy advantage. Some low-stakes counters, including Riverboat Flyer, prefer a more conservative betting spread. This decreases the bankroll swings but at the expense of a lower edge over the house.

It was time for another trip to Mississippi to try my luck at the casinos in Tunica, Biloxi, and Gulfport. Note: Most of the casinos in Tunica offer the same blackjack rules: Hit soft 17, double any two cards, split three times, re-split aces and hit soft 17.

Gold Strike

My first stop in Tunica was the Gold Strike. Even if you donít gamble, you may enjoy a trip to the Gold Strike just to see the colorful characters that visit this place. On a Friday night, the casino was busy and loud. Suddenly there was a very loud bang followed by numerous expletives. A player was walking behind my table when he decided that the support column needed to be punched out. He took it on himself to hit the column with a hard right hand. He hit it hard enough to crack the plaster in the column. I suspect he also cracked some bones in his hand. It looked like it was going to be awhile before he felt any pain. The incident got the Gold Strike staff very excited. Security quickly arrived and escorted the offending patron off the casino floor. I am not sure if they kicked him out of the casino or called the cops and had him arrested. Maintenance also showed up quickly to assess the damage to the pillar. It all seemed like a typical Friday night at the Gold Strike. At that time, I was up around 40 units, spreading 1 to 5 units. Then the count shot up and I lost several large bets in a row. I quit, up 11 units, after pushing on a double down 21.

We enjoyed another terrific meal at the Chicago Steak House. The service and food were excellent. My wife ordered a baked sweet potato and it wound up being about 11 inches long and weighed several pounds. The sweet potato alone could have fed a family of four.

The next morning, back at the Gold Strike, I was the only one at the table, who had not been up all night and not from Memphis. There are two things that players from Memphis always love to do. First, is to reconstruct each hand, in order to point out how they could have won, if only someone had either taken another hit, or not taken a hit. The second is to point out to you how much you could have won, if you had only played that low percentage side bet.

This morning it was my turn to be scolded for not taking the side bet. When my spot hit the 21+3 side bet three hands out of four, a woman at the table went crazy. She was playing every hand and losing big time. She got so excited that the player next to me asked if he could play my side bet. I said "sure" and he proceeded to lose around 12 side bets in a row betting on my spot. When he finally hit on the 13th hand and received a 9 to 1 payoff, the table was finally happy. Never mind that during that streak he had to go into his wallet twice for more money. Concentrating on just the blackjack bet, I won 12 units in 1 hour, spreading 1 to 5 units.

Samís Town

I hadnít played at Samís Town in over a year. Apparently, they missed me, so they sent me a free-bet coupon. I started at a $10 double-deck game and did well, at first, with three players on the table. The dealer was cutting down to about 2/3 of a deck. As a fourth and fifth player showed up, she started cutting down to one deck. Then my doubles were not working out well and I went from being up 10 units to being down 10 units. I switched to another table (eight-deck shoe game) and made a slow comeback. I was almost even when I was dealt two deuces, against a dealer 6 up card. I wound up splitting to three hands and doubling two of them, with an initial 2-unit bet. The dealer busted and I quit, up 8 units for the session. Penetration was poor at about two decks at this shoe game.


Previously I mentioned that almost all the Tunica casinos had the same rules. That was so until July 1st, when Resorts implemented the rule where the dealerís stand on soft 17. They have rented billboards all over town, announcing the rule change. The last time I remember a Tunica casino standing on soft 17, it was years ago when Caesars owned the Grand Casino, before Harrahís took them over. Unfortunately, the change in rules has not seemed to draw very many players to Resorts, at least judging from a Saturday afternoon, when only four blackjack tables were open. No table had more than two players. I played for an hour, at a shoe game, and won 30 units, spreading 1 to 4 units. If you play for one hour at Resorts, they will give you a free buffet.

Another Resorts session saw me win 23 units in one hour, spreading 1 to 9 units. (I spread to two hands when the count went up.)


Next was Hollywood casino, where I have not done well lately. More free play offers drew me back. The dealers were friendly, and the playing conditions were good; however, the cards were bad. For three shoes in a row, it seemed like the dealer never busting. Despite some double down wins, I slowly lost 21 units in two hours, spreading 1 to 4 units.

The Fitz

I always find the blackjack games at the Fitz...

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