KANSAS CITY BLACKJACK REPORT
IS IT WORTH PLAYING?
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 BJ21.com for four 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.
Skilled blackjack players that are tired of being harassed, backed-off, and read the trespass act (or worse) may find solace in the Kansas City casinos where a card counter cannot be barred. Nor can the casinos enforce a betting limit that is applied unilaterally to a card counter (the limit must apply to the entire table). Both Harrah’s and Ameristar were fined for trying to impose such limits.
The casinos in Kansas City are, however, allowed to reduce table limits, reduce penetration, and even preferential shuffle (although only Ameristar uses the preferential shuffle), but these countermeasures are generally applied infrequently and inconsistently. In addition, pit bosses are not particularly skilled or driven to identify and harass card counters as in Las Vegas.
There are four casinos in the greater Kansas City area: Harrah’s, Ameristar, Argosy, and Isle of Capri, plus the Frontier Casino in St. Joseph, which is about 50 miles north of Kansas City. The Kansas City casinos are all located in the north side of the K.C. metro area and all within about 15 miles of each other. No two casinos are within 3 miles of each other so that casino hopping is possible, but the logistics are not like Las Vegas or Atlantic City where one can find a casino next door.
Missouri Casino Blackjack Rules
Kansas City Casino Blackjack Conditions
2-deck table minimums are generally $10 or $25 with maximums of $500 or $1000. 6- deck table minimums range from $5-25 with a typical $500 maximum. Other pertinent conditions are summarized in the table below.
All 2-deck games are no mid-shoe entry. Penetration varies by dealer somewhat at each casino, but other than the 2d at Harrah’s, one should not expect to ever see exceptional penetration.
H17= Dealer hits on soft 17.
D8+= Doubling only allowed on 8-11. No note means double allowed on any 2 cards.
DAS= Double after split.
RSA= Resplit Aces
LSR= Late surrender
Conservative spread = 8:1 or less for 2 deck; 10:1 or less for 6 deck
Aggressive spread = 12:1 or greater for 2 deck; 20 or greater for 6 deck and/or "wonging" on negative counts.
Penetration= number of undealt decks located behind the shuffle determining card
R of 6= 2 rounds to 4 players; 3 rounds to 3 players; 4 rounds to 2 players; etc
RFB (Room, Food, and Beverage) & Other Non BJ Considerations
Newcomers will notice that unlike most gaming markets, alcoholic beverages at the table are not free (they are not even discounted). This shortcoming can be a big negative for some players but should be less of a problem to the card counter who typically drinks lightly or not at all at the tables. All of the casinos have hotels except Isle of Capri. Each casino has a buffet with Argosy and Ameristar being the best. Ameristar is the biggest casino with movie theaters, a concert/show theater, a kids play place, and multiple fast-food and full-service restaurants. Comps at Ameristar, Argosy, and Harrah’s are all banked. Comps appear to be slightly more generous than in most casino markets. Harrah’s leads the group in promotional offers and give-aways. All four casinos offer decent cash back coupons by mail to regular players.
The conventional wisdom among the card counting circles is that the level of heat is proportional to the quality of the game. Using this adage, the Kansas City casinos should have the worst blackjack in the country. Not true. Although the Kansas City blackjack games have mediocre rules and penetration, the games are more attractive when taking into account the fact that a more aggressive bet spread can be used due to the lack of heat. Be forewarned, however, that the aggressive spread will increase your expected win rate but not without a cost – increased risk. Lots of money can be lost in the short run. But at least the card counter does not have to worry about being barred or backroomed!
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