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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.

(JPS's Part 1 article appeared in November BJI.)

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

6. Indigo Sky Casino in Oklahoma - 2 for 1

Note: This is the second mention of an excellent opportunity at Indigo Sky. In Number 5, I mentioned a different opportunity at Indigo Sky. Blackjack conditions were very good at the six-deck game. Rules were S17, DAS, and RSA for a house advantage of about 0.40%. But with the joker added, the house advantage was about -0.30% (meaning, a player advantage of 0.30%). As I mentioned in the first part of this article, perhaps unwisely, I primarily played the double-deck game. The latter was better for card counting, but also made my play conspicuous. Sometime around December 2013, I was asked to no longer play blackjack.

In January 2014, I realized I had made big mistake by killing the golden goose. In January 2014, they offered 2 for 1 on blackjacks in conjunction with the joker on one day of the week (I believe it was Wednesday). The player advantage was a staggering 2.4%. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20:20, but I sure wish I had some better foresight on this opportunity. My errors were not realizing how much value the joker added to a six-deck game, and not knowing that Indigo Sky would continue offering some great promotions.

Lesson learned: The best blackjack games and opportunities (that last any length of time) are usually in obscure locations and not well known among the blackjack- advantage community. When a great blackjack game is found, it may be cost-effective in the long run to use cover and a lower bet spread to try and preserve the opportunity.

7. Buffalo Run Casino in Oklahoma- Blackjack Promo

I had played at Buffalo Run off and on since about 2006. When I first played, the table maximum was $200 and the ante was in force. They offered a double-deck game with 50% penetration, H17, and LSR (no DAS); and a six-deck game with H17, DAS, and early surrender against Ace, and late surrender against all other cards. Penetration on the six-deck game was about 4.5 out of 6 decks.

There were a few days/times where they offered no ante, but with such a low table maximum and not wanting to deal with the ante/no-ante times, I generally avoided the place. But over time, the conditions improved. At some point, they changed to no ante at all times, provided a player's card is used. The double-deck game was changed to H17, DAS, and LSR, with penetration varying dramatically over the years. At some times, the pit boss watched and made sure penetration did not exceed 50%. At other times, penetration was as good as 80%.

The rules at the six-deck game were H17, DAS, early surrender against Ace and late surrender against other dealer card. I believe the house advantage was less than 0.05%.

Table limits were bumped up to $500, and on a few occasions I saw $1000 maximum.

I had a good run playing the game over several years, mixing in both the double- deck and six-deck games. On one occasion (around 2014), I discussed the promotion they were offering for blackjack players with the pit boss. This had been described in their monthly mailer, but I did not pay that much attention. This was essentially a contest to see who could bet the most money at blackjack over the month. First prize was $10,000, with additional prizes running down to a few hundred dollars for places down to 20.

At this time, the management was tolerant of counters (at least they were of me). I logged in about four hours playing an approximate $50-400 spread and racked up enough points to be in the top 20. I was pretty sure that if I had played eight hours at a $100-500 spread I would have easily racked up enough points to haul in the $10,000 first prize. Unfortunately, this was the last day of the month, and I realized I let an easy $10,000 slip away. I did receive a nice dinner and a few hundred dollars for 12th place.

Lesson learned...

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