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TUNICA TRIP REPORT

by Riverboat Flyer

 

Riverboat Flyer is a low-stakes blackjack player. He plays the southern Ohio riverboats along with frequent trips to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, and occasionally Lake Tahoe. He has been counting cards for over ten years, using the Hi-Op, High Low, and currently the half-count system.

The New Year Eve holiday is time for my traditional trip to Tunica, Mississippi. This year I planned to visit all of Tunica's eight casinos. In Tunica, the blackjack rules are fairly consistent: hit soft 17, double after split, and re-split up to four hands. However, re-splitting aces and no mid shoe entry on high limit tables varies.

The Roadhouse

I have not visited The Roadhouse casino in a few years. It looks like I have not missed anything. The two biggest changes I noticed, that the upper level has been closed. It held slot and video poker machines. The Mechanical Bull ride has been removed, replaced by pool tables. The bull ride was perhaps the only thing worth visiting the Roadhouse for. The blackjack games are awful. Five of the nine games pay 6 to 5 for blackjack, and all games hit soft 17. There is no high-limit room. A serious blackjack player should not waste any time at the Roadhouse. You will not find a desirable game there.

Horseshoe

The Horseshoe casino always seems to have a lot of blackjack action with single-, double- and shoe-dealt games. I played for an hour at a shoe game. Unfortunately, most of my double downs did not end well and I lost 7 units before cashing out. I had a second session which went better. It started with a mix up on a marker. The pit boss was very apologetic about it. I used the occasion to score two breakfast comps before even playing a hand. The count went up on the second shoe and I checked out, up 20 units. Unfortunately, their once wonderful buffet is now less than ordinary. I went for breakfast and they didn't have pancakes or waffles. I settled for fried eggs and couldn't even get any toast.

The high-limit room has eight tables. When I was there were they were just getting ready to open the room, with one single-deck game, two double-deck games and one six-deck game. They use the same layout for all the games so they can change the mix of games at any time. They hit soft17, double on any two cards, and doubling after splitting allowed. The single-deck game was not open yet. I would be surprised if they offered 3 to 2 on naturals; I suspect it would be 6 to 5.

The main casino offers eight-deck shoe games and double-deck games.

Gold Strike

The Gold Strike and Horseshoe are the only casinos with significant blackjack action and high-limit rooms. The Gold Strike offers $25 double-deck games and $5 to $100 shoe-dealt games. Penetration was 1.7 decks on shoe games and about one-half deck on double deck. It seemed like almost every game in Tunica offered one or two blackjack side bets. The nonsmoking room upstairs is open only during peak hours. Comps are easy to score; the Steakhouse is excellent. I had several sessions here. My first session had one of those hands you dream about. With two units bet, I split 9's four times, doubling down once. I ended up with a 21, a 19 and two stiffs against a dealer 3 upcard. Happily, the dealer busted with five cards. Other sessions were not as kind to me because I kept losing most of my double downs. My last session was a short one. I started with two units and pressed my bet one unit after each win since the count kept increasing. I was up to five units without a loss, got up, and cashed out after 20 minutes, up 25 units. I played with a couple of humorous novice players in the nonsmoking room...

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