Blackjack newsletter and blackjack strategySubscribe to the Blackjack Insider newsletter

How to Win EVEN MORE Blackjack Tournaments - Volume II... only $14.95. Ken Smith's second e-book on tournament blackjack contains more of his winning strategies that have made him one of the best tournament blackjack players in the world.

Or, purchase both Volume I and Volume II together for $24.95... over 15% off!

NEW! Read how Ken used skill to win a recent blackjack tournament. Get his books and you could too!

How To Win EVEN MORE Blackjack Tournaments - Volume II
(web ads above removed with paid membership. Click here for advertisement rates)


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. This article is a first in a series of articles on the history of blackjack games in Kansas City from JPBs playing experience.


On my way home from the Kansas City Airport a few weeks ago, I stopped by Argosy Casino in Kansas City to use a $50.00 free-play coupon. I strolled over to the high-limit pit and watched as the dealer kept dealing from the two-deck shoe, wondering if I could play a few shoes before the dreaded 25%-penetration countermeasures would be taken by the casino bosses. (Mid-shoe entry has never been allowed at any of the Kansas City casinos, so I could not have entered play at that point even if I wanted too). Card after card kept coming out until finally the yellow shuffle card appeared, and I estimated that I had just seen 85% penetration on a double-deck game with H17 and DAS. (This equates to being one of the best, if not the best, blackjack games in the country for a card counter). Before I could break out a stack of hundreds, the pit boss came by and told the dealer, "Cut the shoe at a deck and a half," (meaning 25% penetration), and I knew if I played, I would be looking at unplayable conditions. I just used my free-play coupon on a six-deck table, shook my head, and walked away wondering how Kansas City blackjack evolved from horrible conditions to this card-counter paradise, and wondering if I will ever be able to get a piece of that action again.

History of Kansas City Blackjack- Part 1 (1994-1998)

The possibility of casinos opening in Missouri (Kansas City and St. Louis) started appearing in the newspapers around 1991. (I did not believe I would ever see the day that casinos would open in Kansas City.) Approval required a state-wide vote that was very close and required some concessions by the casino industry. Among the unique concessions were:

  • Casinos had to be on "riverboats"- no land based casinos. Casino entry was limited to certain boarding times. Thus, in Missouri, people would say: Do you want to go to the "boat or boats" rather than "casino".
  • The casinos were prohibited from offering "games of chance." The industry had to convince the state that blackjack was a "game of skill" and not a "game of chance" that ultimately led to the Missouri Gaming Commission ruling that the casinos could not ban a skilled player from card counting.
  • A strict loss-limit of $500 per two-hour session per player had to be enforced
  • Casinos could not offer credit
  • Free alcoholic drinks cannot be offered to players
  • ID required for entry

All of the casinos charged an admission fee for a two-hour session in the early years. I believe the fees ranged from $5-$10.00. I heard stories of packed casinos and lines to get in. The first casino to open was Argosy in June 1994. It was a true riverboat capable of traversing the Missouri river. I did not visit in the first year or so because after going to Vegas a few times, I could not accept the idea of paying an admission fee to enter a casino. Furthermore, I had heard that Argosy was only offering six-deck games and tables were always crowded the first year or so.

Shortly after Argosy opened, the Flamingo, Harrah's, and Sam's Town opened. These casinos started pushing the definition of "riverboat." Harrah's was more of a casino built adjacent to the river with a cut-out to allow water to surround it (a "boat in a moat"). The jewel of the market was Station Casino, which had movie theaters, a kids play zone, concert hall, multiple restaurants, and eventually a large hotel. It was the last to open, around 1997. Both gamblers and non-gamblers lined up to visit Station Casinos the first few years. Parents could (and did) drop the kids off at the play zone, gamble a few hours, and then picked up their kids afterwards. The theater was top-notch and the restaurant selection was good, including an Arthur Bryant's barbeque.

Because of the casino admission fee, I decided to wait it out until finally Harrah's offered a deal I could bite on around early 1995. They still charged an admission fee of about $5-$10.00, but with the 8:00am "cruise" (that did not cruise, by the way), you received a free breakfast buffet. I could go for that. These Kansas City rules were bizarre, but this is how I remember them:

  • A valid ID was required for entry. A player would then receive a "boarding pass" with printed squares ranging from $10-$500. When you cashed in for chips, the boarding pass would be marked accordingly; once you cashed in for $500, you were done. No boarding pass with open squares, no chips. A player would have to wait two hours to get another boarding pass and buy additional chips.
  • I believe the maximum table limits were $500- but obviously not many players bet anywhere in that range with the $500 buy-in limit.
  • No free drinks or even comped drinks for players.
  • Player's had to leave the "boat" at the end of the two-hour session and buy another boarding pass.
  • Trying to skirt around the buy-in limit was taken seriously. At a minimum, a player would be escorted off the boat.
  • Players would sell chips in the bathroom to those that had maxed out the $500 buy-in. A dealer told me that one player made a nice living selling chips at a premium to down-and-out gamblers.

I am reasonably certain there were no issues or need for the casinos to...

...enter your member login information below to read this article/newsletter...

Paid Members-Only Article

You have clicked on a link to a Blackjack Insider web page or article for paid subscribers. You must have a paid membership to the Blackjack Insider newsletter to view this content. About 1/2 of the articles in each issue of the Blackjack Insider are for paid members only, while the rest are viewable by everyone. Your purchased membership will allow you to read all Blackjack Insider articles for 12 months.

Enter your user name and password below (they were listed and e-mailed to you after you purchased your Blackjack Insider membership):

User name:
Password: (case sensitive)
Save user name and password in your browser so you don't have to type them again later

Forgot your membership id or password? Click here.

How do I get a membership?

A membership can be purchased online at our secure store with your credit card for only $19.95 per year. You will receive a user name and password immediately by e-mail which you can use to read the all past and future members-only articles for 12 months, as well as the regular free articles.


Do I have to buy a membership?

No. Blackjack Insider will continue to be published as a free monthly e-newsletter. But about 1/2 of the articles each month will be for paid members only. Subscribers without a membership can still view and read the non-members articles for free.

What happens after I buy a membership?

Immediately after you complete your purchase, you will receive a unique login user name and password. These are displayed on the final purchase page, and are e-mailed to you. When you click on a members-only article in our web site, you will be prompted for this user name and password (as shown above). Simply enter them, and enjoy the article! Note: make sure you turn on the checkbox above when you login, to save the user name and password so that you don't have to re-enter them every time you view members-only articles.

Why did you switch to paid memberships?

Blackjack Insider is a professional monthly publication with top-notch articles by world-reknown gaming experts. In addition, we have regular reporters that monitor game conditions and tournament schedules throughout North America. We use a partially paid subscriber model to enable us to continue getting the best content for our readers from leading authors on blackjack and gaming.

©2015, DeepNet Technologies. No material to be copied without express permission of DeepNet Technologies.
This site developed by DeepNet Technologies, Ontario, Canada. Contact webmaster @ bjinsider . com if you have problems.
This site is best viewed in a 800x600 graphics mode, or higher.