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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.

Abbreviations used in the article:

RSA= Resplit Aces allowed (RSA not allowed unless noted)

ESR = Early surrender

LSR = Late surrender

Penetration= number of undealt decks located behind the shuffle determining card

# of tables = the number of double deck tables open when I played

The Top 10 (Part 1)

Firstly, I would like to thank Henry for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Blackjack Insider newsletter over the past 15 years, as well as to thank him for his book "Blackjack: Take the Money and Run." While I realize it is not recognized as one of the card counting classics, the book provides the basic information needed for a card counter to play a winning game. I first read it in 1996, and it provided a stepping stone for my 20+ years of successful blackjack advantage play/card counting.

(Editor's Note: The information in Blackjack: Take The Money and Run was greatly expanded into my new book, Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, which you can read for free by clicking here.)


In this final article for Blackjack Insider, I have written a two-parter that recounts my 10 best opportunities for blackjack advantage play that I encountered over the past 15 years. In most cases, the opportunity has long gone; nevertheless, I hope it provides encouragement and guidance for you to keep hunting for similar opportunities. With each opportunity, I provide a brief lesson learned. In addition, at the conclusion of the article I provided what I hope will be some useful guidance for experienced as well as novice blackjack players.

1. Barona Casino Outside San Diego- Single Deck Game

Sometime around 2005, I was taking a family vacation for about a week in San Diego, which is one of my favorite cities in the world. Incredible weather, the ocean, Legoland for my kids, and many other attractions without much less traffic than the Los Angeles area. I believe Barona had only been open a few years (or less) when I visited. Not only was the blackjack game identified accurately in CBJN, but Barona was advertising in the Southwest Airlines magazine as offering "single deck: and the "best blackjack rules in the country".

(Editor's Note: As an aside, Baron's promotion of having the "Best Blackjack Rules in the Country" came from an article I wrote in Casino Player magazine on the "Best Blackjack Games in the Country." In the article, I praised Barona for their outstanding single-deck blackjack games, and rated it as ‘the best in the country.")

Both sources were accurate. In the main pit, there were lots of double-deck games with DD, H17, DAS, and LSR. I think penetration was about 65%. The house advantage was about 0.30%. In the main pit, I believe most of the tables were $10-500 or $25-500. This was a good blackjack game for an advantage player. But the gold mine was in the high-limit area. I believe the conditions were H17, DAS, LSR on several single-deck games. I think the house advantage was something like 0.05% or less. This was probably the best game in the country for a basic strategy player at the time. (Horseshoe Casino in Shreveport around 2002 actually had one single- deck, S17, game where the perfect basic strategy player actually had an advantage, but this was only at one table and the table was usually filled the times I visited. These rules were offered at several tables at Barona).

The drawback at Barona was the...

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