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by KC Brooks

I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revere's "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revere's Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas}, playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I haven't had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off. I also help fellow AP Nick teach card counting at 

This month, I'll take a look at the gaming action available at the MGM Grand and the Tropicana casinos located at the corners of Tropicana Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard (south end of the Strip). The Tropicana casino is located on the south-east corner and it is connected to the MGM via a walkway that crosses over Tropicana Avenue.

TROPICANA CASINO (3801 Las Vegas Blvd. South)

The Tropicana underwent a multi-million dollar face lift in 2011; a South Beach inspired theme, complete with a four-acre pool and beach club area. It has 1507 rooms and a 50,000 square foot casino. In my opinion, the color of the exterior of the building is nothing to write home about (unless you are into "all white"). To me, it looks like the whole building was primed and waiting for a nice colorful final coat of paint. However, the interior is bright, with white trim and marble ... nicely done.

Nothing but the best as far as food goes at the Trop. For a little taste of Italy, Bacio cannot be beat; the Biscayne steakhouse specializes in aged steaks and fine wines. The Beach Café is open 24-hours and offers indoor and outdoor seating with stunning views. Quick bites are available at the South Beach food court, and Starbucks is open 24 hours for those in need of a caffeine fix.

The Tropicana casino has over 800 slot and video poker machines, and a variety of table games including craps, blackjack, roulette, mini-baccarat, Pai-Gow Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, and a state-of-the-art race and sports book. There are three roulette tables and three twelve-foot craps tables. The table limits for craps are $10-$3000 with 3x4x5x odds.

Blackjack at the Trop consists of double-deck and six-deck shoe games. There are three tables of double-deck blackjack with the following rules: dealer hits soft 17; you can double after splitting, and re-split aces. The house advantage against a basic strategy player with these rules is only 0.35%, and the table limits are $25-$5000. The penetration is excellent, close to 75 percent.

There are three "types" of six-deck shoe games. Ten tables use continuous shuffle machines and pay 6:5 for blackjacks. (These games should definitely be avoided.) There are four tables where the dealer stands on soft 17, you can double after splitting, re-split aces, and late surrender is offered. The table limits are $50-$5000, and penetration is close to five decks. The remaining six-deck games have the dealer hitting soft 17 and players' can double down after pair splitting and re-split aces. Penetration is the same as the stand on soft 17 games, and the house edge is 0.26% for S17 game, 0.56% for the H17 game, and 1.92% for the 6:5 abomination games.

The Tropicana is not...

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