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BLACKJACK PROMOTIONS: THE BIG ONE THAT GOT AWAY

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 BJ21.com 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.

Introduction

I learned pretty quickly that there are two components to winning money at blackjack:

  • the advantage gained from counting cards and
  • the casino promotions

You can use a computer simulation program (or if you are old-school like me the tables in a book such as Blackjack Attack) to estimate your win rate by playing blackjack and counting cards. The win rate is based primarily on the factors: bet spread, penetration, and blackjack rules. You can supplement the high risk part of the win rate (i.e., counting cards) by exploiting casino promotions, such as coupon mailers, points that can be redeemed for cash, and other special offers. The promotions are usually no risk and can be exploited without the adverse effect of being identified as an undesirable card counter. Because I have a full-time job and a family, I have only been able to take advantage of a small percentage of the promotions that I receive from casinos; however, Iíve always tried to exploit the really good ones A few months ago, however, I missed out on what was probably the single best promotion I have come across in the past 20 years.

Examples of Promotions

Here are some of the better promotions that I can recall:

  • One Indian casino sent me a coupon for $1,000 in casino play. Unlike "Match Play Chips," these were worth dollar for dollar, making it a $1,000 value.
  • Gold Strike in Tunica gave me $500 in casino chips and a chance (about 1 in a 100) to win a Porsche Cayenne.
  • Fitzgeraldís in Tunica sent me $500 worth of casino chip coupons for several consecutive months.
  • Harrahís in Las Vegas sent me tournament offers (blackjack, craps, and slots) with prize pools of about $50,000 each for a player pool of typically about $200 (thus a value of about $250). Coupled with a free room, good location, a welcome breakfast, and food/drinks during the tournament, these were very decent promotions.
  • One of the Terribleís casinos offered me a 5% rebate on my losses. I was only able to play there a few times, but I did receive one rebate for about $250 (after a big loss) that I was able to cash.

How I Found Out About This Super Promotion

My blackjack play was still welcome at this particular casino, and I was receiving monthly mailers from them that described their upcoming promotions. On top of that, the promotions were described on their website: therefore, I have no excuses for not knowing about them. I had been playing at this property about once a month for about a year. They offered a 2:1 promotion on suited blackjacks (I learned about that promotion from their mailer) but otherwise, there was nothing else that excited me. I received Match Play Coupons, ranging from about $25-$100 week, free room offers, and some restaurant comps. Nice perks bonus but nothing really exceptional. Then this happened.

I showed up on the last day of the month around 5:00 pm and played my usual games, splitting time between their six-deck and double-deck games. The double-deck game had 50% penetration with DAS, H17, no RSA, and LSR, yielding a house advantage of about 0.33% against a basic strategy player. The penetration at the six-deck game was nothing exceptional, at around 4.6 out of 6.0 decks. However, the rules were very good for a basic strategy player with H17, DAS, RSA, Early Surrender against a dealerís Ace upcard, and Late Surrender against a dealerís 10. This was a good game for a card counter, and a great game for a basic strategy player. My average bet was probably $50, maybe $100 tops.

After a few hours of playing, I looked up at some type of leader board. Fifty names were posted with total points next to each name. I glanced at the board and said to myself, "Thatís weird; somebody on the board has the same first initial and last name as me".

After a few more of hours of play, I noticed that the person with the same last name as me was listed at number 10. Finally, I asked one of the pit bosses about the board. "Thatís you at number 10," he said. "We have a $10,000 promotion this month just for table players. The top 50 table game players share $10,000 pool and the top person gets $5000".

This promotion was for table games only- blackjack and Three-Card Poker. Slot players were not eligible. Since this is a small Indian casino, I usually only see a few other blackjack players. In fact, I didnít think they had even 50 regular blackjack players! I finished the evening (and month) with about 11,000 points. The leader had about 25,000 points.

At the stroke of midnight, I finally realized how I let $5000 get away and how good of an opportunity this was that I just missed...

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