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by Stu D. Hoss

Stu D. Hoss is a retired Air Force officer and aviator. He has visited and served in over 40 countries including flying combat missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Most of it under the guise of keeping the world safe for democracy, better blackjack, and for a few other personal reasons. He has been playing blackjack for 20+ years, and cut his teeth on the tables of South Lake Tahoe during flight training in Northern CA. Mr. Hoss uses basic strategy and the HiLo count method to give himself a chance against the house edge. He currently resides in NV and is pursuing options for a second career. He's a regular attendee at the Global Gaming Expo each year in Las Vegas.

Note: The observations of casino conditions were made in January 2017. The casinos visited in Las Vegas this month were:

Hooters, 115 East Tropicana Avenue

Orleans, 4500 West Tropicana Avenue

As you settle down to read this month's effort, 2017 is well under way. As you can see, I began this year's odyssey with Hooters. Might as well say it now, this month's entry may not be suitable for reading while at work (unless you worked at a couple of the places I used too) or for young readers. You've been warned! Looking at the title above, this could be a chronicle of adventures in a New Orleans strip club, or even the title of a softcore adult film. It is neither; yet.

Speaking of "hooters" and all joking aside, the launching pad for this month's blackjack adventures was the back bar at the nearby (to both properties reviewed) Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (HRC), the third week of January. That's when the HRC hosts the annual Adult Entertainment Expo/Adult Video News (AEE/AVN) convention, trade show, and awards ceremony. For me that meant stopping by and catching up with an old friend over a beverage or two, people watching and discussing business - pleasure, tech, and gambling. You'd be amazed how similar all three have become.

My friend introduced to me to a couple of tattooed, anorexic young "wannabe porn starlets" as the "best damn gambling writer nobody knows." This did lead to some interesting discussion, a few more similar intros, and a few "business cards" passed my way with the intention of improving my "recognizable quotient" and readership. One buxom beauty shared the story of how her ex-boyfriend was a problem gambler and how stressful it was on their relationship. Based on her story, I could've helped. However, I'd liked to have heard his side of it; but really, I just wanted to see the "sights" and get over to Hooters to check out the scene and play some low-stakes blackjack. I did see an old, new "acquaintance" that I met for the first time a few years back. Apparently her career is doing quite well and she has become a legit starlet. At least one (or many) of the readers will know her. All I'll say is she now has short, blonde hair. I had to smile weakly and say it looked great when interrogated on the subject (D., what were you thinking?). After a couple hours of the above and failing to talk my friend or any of my new acquaintances into checking out some "civilians" or grabbing some wings a few blocks away, I bade that scene farewell until the next evening. Duty called.

Hooters, 115 East Tropicana Avenue

Hooters Casino Hotel is a boutique off-Strip property located next door to the Tropicana and across the street from the MGM. The Hooters theme is featured throughout the casino and hotel. It sits on the site of the former Hotel San Remo. Almost since its grand opening during Super Bowl weekend 2006, the property has reportedly had money issues. My opinion is that Hooters as a company grew too fast and watered down their brand. They had a good thing going in the restaurant business and still do in many cases; however, all Hooters are not created equal. Getting into the casino and hotel business might not have been the best idea; another good example of a company getting away from its core business and making a mess. Does anyone remember Hooters Airlines? The ownership rights to this property have been bought and sold a few times in the past decade, but I heard at the Global Gaming Expo that current ownership is spending some money to revamp the hotel rooms and upgrade the property. That could lead to a firming up of the Hooters theme or a setup for a total rebrand of the property. Time will tell.

The current version of the property features 696 hotel rooms and suites; 35,000 square-feet of gaming space; one of the busiest Hooters restaurants in the nation; an underrated pool area; and a showroom that has featured the likes of the Prince tribute show Purple Reign, male revue Men of X, the topless revue Rack N Roll, and the Dirty Joke Show. Comedian Bobby Slayton was the headliner in the Night Owl Showroom for two years beginning in the spring of 2007. A new rock n roll tribute show debuted January 26th with performances Thursdays-Sundays at 7 p.m. The new show is called "Rock Fantasy" and looks promising. Comedy Daredevils Ryan Stock and AmberLynn (not the AVN version) take the stage at 9 p.m. in Comedy Daredevils. This duo opened in September after making a splash in Season 11 of America's Got Talent.

The Hooters casino includes approximately 20 table games and about 370 slot and video poker machines. The best video poker I found was...

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