Blackjack Insider Newsletter, Sept. 2004, #56
WENDOVER BLACKJACK REPORT
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 ofBJ21.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.
After seeing most of the "real" single deck blackjack games across the country being removed or worse ye, being replaced by the "6 to 5" black jack games where the house advantage is about five times that of real blackjack, I assumed that the days of real single deck blackjack (where blackjacks pay 3:2) were long gone. But in August I stumbled on a haven for real single deck blackjack. Not only are there 50-100 real single deck blackjack tables, but these are good single blackjack games that allow doubling any two cards and at a majority of the games, resplitting aces was allowed. These single deck games are thus generally superior to most of the single deck games in Lake Tahoe and Reno where the player is often restricted to doubling only on 10 and 11.
Wendover is located in the northeast corner of Nevada on Interstate 80. It is about 100 miles west of Salt Lake City. The drive from Salt Lake to Wendover is one of the most desolate stretches I have ever seen. It is kind of like driving across Western Kansas or Nebraska but without the corn fields and wheat fields (for those that have never driven across Kansas or Nebraska, there is nothing but corn and wheat fields). It appeared the primary customers in Wendover were truck drivers and travelers driving cross country and looking for a place to stop. There did not appear to be any industry in the city. There are five casinos that offered blackjack: Red Garter, Nugget, Rainbow, Peppermill, and Montego Bay. All five casinos were within about ½ mile of the strip in the center of town. The three biggest casinos- Montego Bay, Peppermill, and Rainbow are all owned by Rainbow.
I was fully expecting this to be a short and disappointing trip. My experiences with single deck have always been short and lead to quick back-offs at places in Las Vegas like the Horseshoe, Lady Luck, and Westward Ho. At Slots of Fun I was not backed off, but the dealers were instructed to shuffle after one round. Furthermore, I found the Rainbow Casino in Vicksburg to be one of the quickest casinos to boot me in my career. Although the Vicksburg Rainbow offered an excellent 6 deck game, they booted me after a couple of shoes with a moderate spread apparently after seeing me make a few correct surrender plays. They were taking no chances- there was not enough evidence to establish whether I was a legitimate advantage player or not.
I was concerned these three Rainbow owned casinos in Wendover would act similarly, and that getting booted from one would mean a problem at the other two. I did not expect Wendover single deck to be good. I was mistaken as the conditions were excellent.
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