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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 we find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a sea of five-star resorts; Wynn, Encore, The Venetian and the Palazzo. My destination is across the street at Treasure Island (TI), an affordable option to the aforementioned resorts. I will also be checking out your playing options at the Mirage, neighbors of Treasure Island. Ahoy, mate.....let the journey begin.

MIRAGE CASINO (3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S)

I used the self- parking garage at the Mirage. The fourth level has a foot bridge that leads to the hotel and casino. The tropical themed Mirage offers a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shopping. If you are into white tigers, palm trees, waterfalls, private oasis, and an active're in for a treat.

From fine dining to casual, you will find a variety of cuisines. Enjoy a flame-broiled steak in an intimate lounge or an all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ, set in a tropical rainforest. Entertainment at the Mirage is nothing short of spectacular. Terry Fator is a must see, and if you are a Beatles fan check out LOVE, Cirque du Soleil's interpretation of their legacy.

Casino games include craps, roulette, Pai Gow Poker, Pai Gow Tiles, Let-it-Ride, Caribbean Stud Poker, Keno, 2,245 slot and video poker machines, and a 269-seat Race and Sports Book. There is a poker room but it is closed and being remodeling. It's due to open next month.

There are eight roulette tables dispersed throughout the casino; six 12-foot craps tables are situated in one pit. At the time of my visit, there were four games open with $10, $15, and $25 minimums, all with $5000 maximum betting limits. 3x4x5x odds are offered.

There are a variety of blackjack options to choose from. Some are good and most not so good; unfortunately, the majority are of the not so good variety. They include single- deck, six-deck continuous shuffle machine games, and six-deck shoe games that pay 6:5 for blackjacks. The 6:5 pay-outs has ruined single deck, and now I find it in more and more shoe games; simply put, deplorable.

There are about five tables of double deck that are either dealer stands on soft 17 or hits soft 17. You can double after splitting in both games. The stand soft 17 games have $50-$10,000 betting limits and a house edge of 0.19% (against basic strategy player). The hit games have $25-$10,000 betting limits and a house advantage of 0.40%. The double-deck games are dealt from a shoe, and the penetration is set by a notch. I counted 64-65 cards dealt to the cut card.

There are two tables of six-deck games where the dealer stands on soft 17. You can double after splitting and re-split aces; late surrender is also offered. The table limits are $25-$10,000 with a house edge of 0.26%. There are nine tables with the same rules except dealer hits soft 17. The table limits are $10-$5000 with a house edge of 0.46%. The penetration is 4.5 decks for both games.

There are nine tables using eight decks, with the following rules; dealer hits soft 17, DAS, and RSA. The table limits are $5-$5000 and a house edge of 0.59%. The penetration is around six decks. Be on the lookout for the same games with the same rules with one (big) exception: blackjacks pay 6:5. Those games have a house edge of 1.85%.

Rounding out the blackjack action at the Mirage are a couple of games of Blackjack Switch and one table of Freebet Blackjack.

If you are coming to Vegas, the Mirage should definitely...

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