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by Mark Gruetze

Mark Gruetze write’s the weekly "Player’s Advantage" gambling column for the Pittsburg Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania. His columns are online at He has been a skilled recreational player for more than 30 years, focusing on blackjack, video poker, and poker. E-Mail questions or comments to

Casino visited on this trip in late July include:

Gold Strike
Sam’s Town

Despite the closing of Harrah’s in June and recurring reports of reduced gambling revenue, the Tunica area remains an attractive destination for low-rollers. Comps are easy, often covering all hotel and dining expenses for players who stay multiple days. Double-deck blackjack is common, while decent video poker and challenging live poker are available. Still, Tunica shows signs of tightening. Some of the eight remaining casinos offer just one or two playable pitch games. Only two casinos offer 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker at the quarter or $1 level.

In late July, my wife and I made our second Tunica trip of the year, splitting our stay between Hollywood and Gold Strike but finding time to visit the other casinos as well. We don’t like to leave anyplace out in our ever-hopeful quest of getting home with a profit.

Standard blackjack Tunica rules are H17, DAS, RSA, DOA and no surrender. We typically play double-deck but dabble in a shoe game if a pitch game is unavailable. We’re accustomed to Pennsylvania’s good blackjack rules, which include S17 and late surrender, but the house edge in a Tunica DD game is actually a smidgen less than a Pennsylvania six-deck game: 0.326 percent in Tunica vs. 0.339 percent in Pennsylvania, according to the blackjack house edge calculator at

HOLLYWOOD (1150 Casino Strip Blvd.)

My wife’s best blackjack session of the trip came at Hollywood. Sitting at first base at the sole DD table, she won every hand of the first deck at the start of our first session on the second-day of the trip. During the second and third decks, she started whispering to me...

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