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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 hit two off-Strip properties: Silver Sevens and Hard Rock. The Silver Sevens casino is located on the corner of Flamingo Rd. and Paradise Rd.; a few blocks south on Paradise is where the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is located (between Flamingo and Harmon). I found some decent blackjack games at both properties.

Hard Rock (4455 Paradise Rd.)

If you are a fan of "Rock and Roll," then the Hard Rock is definitely worth checking out (from the guitar-shaped door handles on the entry doors into the casino to the multitudes of music memorabilia lining the walls and hallways). Signed guitars, drum sets and outrageous costumes worn by rocks' top artists are on display throughout the entire casino. The Hard Rock has hosted some of the biggest names in music, Bob Dylan and the Who to name a few.

The pool at the Hard Rock is one of its biggest attractions. Consisting of three separate pools, this paradise covers close to five acres and includes sandy beaches, palm trees, waterfalls, private cabanas, and a swim-up blackjack table.

The Hard Rock is definitely a magnet for the younger crowd. On my visit, most of the action was taking place in the pool area with not much going on in the casino. The Center Bar is the epicenter of all the gaming action at the Hard Rock with a panoramic view of the casino floor.

The table games offered at the Hard Rock include blackjack, craps, baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, Progressive 3-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold'em Poker, Let-it-Ride, and Big 6. There are over 200 video poker machines and 600 slot machines, a Race and Sports book, and a poker room.

The poker area is not in a room; instead, it is located next to the Luxe Bar, back near the entrance of the self-parking garage. A variety of promotions are offered, including Ace's Cracked, hourly and progressive high hand. For a list of the daily promotions, contact the poker room at 702-69-FLUSH.

The Craps pit on the main floor has five tables that are 12-13 feet long, with table limits of $10-$3000. There was a minimum of 5-6 roulette tables scattered throughout the gaming areas.

The majority of blackjack games on the main floor are six-deck shoe games. The rules are as follows: the dealer hits soft 17; you can double after splitting, and re-split aces. The table limits are $5-$2000, and house advantage against a basic strategy player is 0.56%. The penetration varies from one to one and a half decks cut off.

There was one double-deck game that paid 6:5, and should be avoided. The Hard Rock should be ashamed at offering a 6:5 double deck game ... simply criminal. A party pit area of about 6-8 tables, complete with a stripper pole, offered H17 rules and $10-$2000 table limits. The drawback is that continuous shuffle machines are in use; therefore, I recommend hanging out by the pool area if ogling at scantily-clad beauties are what you desire.

The best blackjack games to be found at the Hard Rock are...

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