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TO THE EDITOR OF CASINO PLAYER

by Donald Schlesinger

Editor's Note: In my blackjack column in the October issue of Casino Player magazine, I ranted about the poor blackjack playing conditions on the Strip. My column stirred a lot of responses from my peers (and players). Donald Schlesinger, who was recently inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame, sent the note below to the Editor of Casino Player magazine. (His note was subsequently published in the December issue of CP.) I thought you would enjoy reading Don's opinion is on the abominable blackjack games on the Strip and the players who play them.

To the Editor:

Kudos to Henry Tamburin for his no-nonsense, hard-hitting article, "Blackjack Survival in X-Rated Strip Casinos," in the October issue of Casino Player.  Not mincing any words, Henry tried to convey to readers the lunacy of ever sitting down to a game in which a blackjack pays 6-5 instead of 3-2.  And while he had nothing but contempt for casinos that offer this hideous rule that steals from patrons, I would like to point out the following.  In 1964, not too long after Ed Thorp's seminal book, Beat the Dealer, made the New York Times best-seller list, nervous Las Vegas casinos, fearing an influx of card counters, changed the rules of their blackjack games.  Doubling was permitted only on a total of 11, and splitting aces was no longer allowed.  The public outcry was swift and decisive.  Players stayed away from the games in droves, so damaging the casinos' bottom lines that they were forced to relent and to restore the traditional rules.  It took but a single week for the players' message to resonate with the casino bosses.

What's the point?  Well, 6-5 blackjack has been a staple on the Las Vegas Strip for more than a decade, and, if anything, has proliferated during that period.  And what have players done to send a message to casinos that they won't tolerate such shabby treatment and such a disgusting distortion of the rules of the game?  Absolutely nothing!  Have they voted with their wallets?  Nope.  Have they stopped patronizing tables that offer 6-5?  On the contrary, players flock to these tables, which often don't have an empty seat!  Bottom line, readers:  next time you come back from Las Vegas, having lost money playing blackjack at tables that pay 6-5 for a natural, ask yourself how much of that loss was caused by bad luck and how much was caused by the utter stupidity of your agreeing to play the game in the first place.



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