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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.

Editors Note: The i-Table is manufactured by Ballys. Here's a link to the i-Table: Bally's


Normally, I would not devote a report to just one casino, especially to one with mediocre playing conditions that is located in a relatively obscure area. But this was the first time I had ever played (or even heard of) an "i-Table," Where would you have expected to find this high tech blackjack table? In Silicon Valley, California maybe? Or perhaps, one of the new billion-dollar casinos located on the Strip in Las Vegas? Wrong, I found my first i-Table in Wheeling, West Virginia of all places at the Wheeling Island Casino, located about 40 miles south of Pittsburg, PA on the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio.

Wheeling Island in Wheeling, West Virginia

This is a fairly small casino. One point worth noting: When I signed up for a player's card as a newbie, I received $20 in free slot play. This bonus is certainly not worth a special trip, but if you are anywhere close to Wheeling, why not take advantage of the $20 promotion? (Note: You might want to check online or even call the Wheeling Inn to confirm this promotion is still being offered if that is a big factor in your visiting the casino).

On a weekend night, there were only about five tables open. Only one offered a double-deck game. The lone double deck was connected to the Itable. The latter was open at busier times; in addition, they had a conventional double-deck table also open. When I visited, there were two conventional eight-deck tables and two eight-deck i-Tables.

Counting cards in an eight-deck game requires more patience than I generally have, but if the rules and the penetration are good, an eight-deck game can be beat. The first part of the equation was affirmative - the rules were excellent- S17, DAS, and LSR. The house advantage is only about 0.30%. However, the penetration was terrible (actually even worse than terrible). The few cuts I saw looked like about 50%. When 50% penetration is combined with a six- or eight- deck game, it is a complete waste of time to count cards because it's impossible to gain any meaningful advantage.

The lone double deck i-Table conditions were slightly better. The rules were not as good: H17, DAS, and LSR with no RSA for a house advantage of about 0.35%. The penetration was marginally acceptable at about 50-55%. Card counting at a full table with 50-55% is a waste of time, but heads up against the dealer or with one other player can qualify as a mediocre game.

i-Table Features

The cards were machine shuffled and then dealt face up from a shoe - just like in a number of casinos in the Midwest. However, chips were not used at the table.

I bought in for a few thousand dollars and the total showed up on my i-Table screen. I didn't receive any chips; instead, I "dragged" the chips on the screen into my betting spot to place a bet. The i-Table reads the bet and cards as they were dealt. A player blackjack with no dealer ace was quickly paid electronically. For other hands, the i-Table would ask for a play decision - stand, hit, double, or surrender. If the dealer had an ace showing, before the ace even reached the dealers spot, the i-Table asked if I wanted to take insurance. No need for the dealer to peak at the hole card. The i-Table knew what the hole card was and would instantly pay players who made the insurance bet.

Some advantages of the i-Table...

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