BLACKJACK IN EUROPE REPORT: CASINO BAD WEISS (Munich, Germany)
by Radek Vegas
Bored with poker, a German gambler discovered blackjack on a Vegas trip. He called himself "Radek Vegas," and he set a goal to beat the game. He started the biggest German Website in 2011 (http://www.blackjack-vegas.de), and since then, he has improved his skills and knowledge so that he reached his goal and is able to beat the casino at blackjack.
I started playing blackjack back in 2011 when I made a trip to Las Vegas. Before that I played table poker and was annoyed of sitting around boring while folding the hell out of myself. So I was searching for information about other casino games and came to blackjack because I liked the idea of beating the casino using my skills. Unfortunately, there weren't any useful websites about blackjack in German; therefore, I bought a lot of English books about the game and founded a website. Within the last five years, it became the one and only source of information about blackjack in German. I made contacts to famous blackjack player like Ken Smith, for whom I translated his website into German, or Michael Shackleford, the Wizard of Odds.
Beside my trips to Las Vegas I took almost every chance to visit casinos all around the world from A (like Argentina) to Z (like Zypern, or as we call the island, Cyprus, in Germany). My home base casino "Spielbank Bad Wiessee" is on a beautiful lake called Tegernsee that is close to Munich. "Spielbank" is the uncool German word for "casino". I really don't like to gamble there since the German Casinos (all run by the government) introduced continuous shuffle machines (CSM) in 2012; however, I have a special relationship to this casino. And perhaps one day in the future you may want want to visit this casino if you are in this area (especially in October during the Beerfest).
You can't compare Casino Bad Wiessee to Las Vegas-based casinos at all. It's small, but classy. A few years ago gentlemen were required to wear suits in the casino. More recently, German casinos are suffering because of fewer customers; therefore, nowadays and they let you in with a jacket and traditional shoes. Before you can enter the table games, you must register at the front desk. If you are already registered, you have to pay an entry fee of €2.50 ($3 US). Smoking is prohibited inside the casino but you can take a break on the balcony, and have a smoke while admiring the beautiful lake. (However, don't expect to see much in the evening when it is dark.)
When you enter the casino floor you can overlook the whole area easily. On the right side you find a nice bar where you can order local beer called Tegernseer. For two reasons you shouldn't drink too much. First, because German beers are stronger than American beers and you might end up with a BIG headache the next day. Secondly, your playing decisions might suffer.
There are few options to gamble in Casino Bad Wiessee. There are about ten roulette tables in the pit – five on the left side, five on the right side. You can find two blackjack tables in the back of the casino by the roulette area. One has betting limits from 5 to 500 Euro, the other one 10 to 1000 Euro. The shuffle machines in Casino Bad Wiessee are filled with six decks of cards. According to European rules, the dealer takes his second (down) card only after all the players have finished their hands. (Also, all secondary bets made by players by either pair splitting or doubling down lose along with the initial wager if the dealer subsequently turns over a blackjack hand on the same round.) The dealer must stand on any 17, which is a player-friendly rule. You are also allowed to double down on any two cards, and doubling down after pair splitting is allowed (you only get one draw card). You can split aces, and surrender is not allowed.
On weekend the tables are crowded and you have to wait several minutes before a seat opens. Nevertheless, if you spot good players, who know the basic playing strategy, you are allowed to place a bet in his betting box. However, the amount of all of the chips in any one box must not exceed the table maximum. I mention this in the event you might meet a rich Asian gambler who is betting the table maximum all the time. In this case even trying to wager a 5-Euro minimum bet on the same box will be denied.
In the days before the continuous shuffling machines took over the game in this casino, I loved to play here using "wonging," named after blackjack legend Stanford Wong. With shuffling after each hand, it's useless to card count but if you find another casino where the table is crowded and you are allowed to bet with a player it's worth a try.
"Wonging" is to bet only if the true count is positive. So stand behind a player who knows how to play basic strategy and follow the count. My experience says that this it is not easy to a spot perfect basic strategy player in Europe because blackjack is not that popular as it is in the United States. In the worst case, chose the best player. Follow the game till the true count is positive enough to risk a big bet and cross your fingers. Good luck!
Note: Other casinos in Germany are in Garmish and Bad Reichenhall. Both casinos are about 100 miles from Munich; however, I have not played at either casino.
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