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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 for five 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.

Casino visited include:

Ameristar (Saint Charles)

Hollywood (Maryland Heights)


River City

St. Louis is the second closest, decent-sized, casino market for me, behind only Kansas City. For many years, although the St. Louis market was larger in number of casinos than Kansas City, there was only one decent place to play double-deck blackjack in St. Louis- Ameristar (a Station property before being rebranded as Ameristar many years ago). There are currently four casinos on the Missouri side and two on the Illinois side that offer blackjack. I discuss the four Missouri casinos in this article: Ameristar, Hollywood, River City, and Lumiere. Fortunately, within the last year or so, there have been a few changes that make St. Louis a better place for an advantage player to play blackjack.

St. Louis Logistics

The logistics of the St. Louis casinos is not particularly amenable to someone trying to hop around. Hollywood and Ameristar are fairly close together (within 5 miles) on the west side of the metropolitan area. Lumiere is about 25 miles east of Hollywood in the heart of downtown. The good news is that these three casinos are all easily assessable off I-70. River City is about 10 minutes south of Lumiere on I-55. In order to drive from the farthest west casino (Ameristar) to the farthest southeast casino (River City), it will take a good 40 minutes. Ameristar and River City are both owned by Pinnacle and use the same Players Card system. Lumiere is now owned by Tropicana. Hollywood (formerly Harrah's) is owned by Penn Gaming.

Ameristar in Saint Charles

There are about six double-deck tables and about four six- deck tables in the high limit room. All the tables in the main pit are six-deck. For such a large casino, the number of six-decks in the main pit is low (only a few open when I visited). The conditions I observed were:


  • H17, DAS, no RSA for a house advantage of 0.40%
  • Penetration ranging from 60-80%
  • Table minimum $25
  • Table maximum $2000

Note: there was also a $100 minimum table that was "reserved" on both of my visits. I was not able to confirm it, but according to Current Blackjack News (CBJN), they offer S17 on the $100 table minimum.


  • H17, DAS, RSA for a house advantage of 0.56%
  • Penetration about 4.5 decks dealt out
  • Table minimum $25 in high limit (lower in main pit)
  • Table maximum $ 2000 in high limit (lower in main pit)

The double deck is a very good game for a card counter. It is hard for me to judge how tolerant they are of new advantage players and how quick they are to identify advantage players. I have been playing there for almost 20 years. Sometimes I would only visit once a year, and before I can even place a bet, the countermeasures (25% penetration) were in place. If you are a skilled blackjack player and have not been to this property, I cannot predict if, and how long it will take, for countermeasures to be taken. (Unfortunately, you will have to find out for yourself.) On my two recent visits, I was pleasantly surprised to see...

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