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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, January, #37



December was a busy month for Las Vegas with the rodeo in town and everyone preparing for the New Year eve celebrations. Hotel rates have been low during the week with room deals extending into the weekends. After the holidays, the hotel rates will remain low and blackjack tables should not be crowded. In fact, this might be a good time for you to plan your next trip to Vegas.

The playing conditions on the Strip for advantage players have not changed much the past 6 months. Ditto for the local casinos, who continue to run promotions for members of their frequent playerís club. So, this month Iíll deviate from my past reports and give you a tip about good blackjack games that are located about an hourís drive north of Las Vegas. In fact the single deck games there are better than youíll find in Binionís Horseshoe casino in downtown Las Vegas. Howís that?

If you travel one hour north on I-15 from Las Vegas you will arrive at the fast growing border-town of Mesquite, Nevada. Mesquite has 4 casinos: CasaBlanca, Eureka, Oasis and Virgin River. They offer "real" single deck blackjack games (not the bastardized Superfun 21 or 6:5 blackjack payoff games) with h17 and das rules. Penetration is generally "Rule of Six". Playing heads-up with the dealer, I was able to get seven rounds at several casinos. Double-deck games also have good penetration at the Eureka with h17, das and also the best penetration (1.2 deck cut-off) on their 6-deck game. Table maximum was $500 at Virgin River and Eureka and $1,000 at Oasis and CasaBlanca.

In total there are approximately 60 blackjack tables in Mesquite, with only about half open during the week. My advice for the advantage player is to move around from one casino to another, leave after a positive count swing, hide your winning chips, and play those sweet single and double deck games. I did not observe any heat from the pit during the four hours that I played and I feel that the casino surveillance for the most part is poor quality.

The casinos offer a good variety of accommodations and they also have some of the more popular golf courses in Nevada. The Oasis and CasaBlanca specialize in Spa services, which are offered as part of a hotel package. Transportation from Las Vegas Airport to Mesquite is available from Airline Limo Corp. at 702-346-6359. Roundtrip is advertised at $45. I recommend a one-day car rental from Las Vegas so you can come and go on your own schedule. Hotel rates are very modest - less than $20 during the week - with slightly higher prices on the weekends.

If you prefer to stay and play in Las Vegas, my blackjack recommendations based on the current playing conditions in town are: Bellagio, Mirage, Casino Royale, Texas Station, and Fiesta for decent double-deck games; and Imperial Palace and Caesars for the best penetration on 6-deck shoe games. Whatever you do, donít camp out at any table since the word around town is that pit and surveillance personnel are being told by management to get rid of advantage players.

Good play and good luck.

Captain John


Captain John lives in Las Vegas and is an experienced blackjack player. He has been studying and playing blackjack for over 30 years including attending classes on how to evaluate different games and how to identify the weaknesses in the pit. He uses a 2-level, advanced card counting system and limits his play to only advantage games. He plays about 30 hours a month and finds that playing blackjack is a good way to supplement his retirement income.

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