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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, April 2005, #63


By Scott Michaels


Scott Michaels writes for Video Poker Player magazine ( and has been an advantage gambler since 1998. He specializes in video poker, live poker and blackjack.  When playing blackjack, he uses the KO count. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email Scott at

St. Louis, the Gateway to the West and home of five area casinos, offers players in the Midwest a quick fix for their gambling desires when they donít have the time to make the trek all the way to Vegas.

With only five casinos in town, and with them spread out as far as 45 minutes apart, there isnít a lot of competition. Harrahs and Ameristar are located 10 minutes from each other. The Casino Queen and President casinos are on opposite sides of the Mississippi. The Alton Belle sits alone about 20 minutes north of downtown St. Louis. There is talk of an additional casino downtown and a seventh to be located in South St. Louis. The Missouri Gaming Commission has given approval to these projects, but no ground has been broken.

Around town, the blackjack games are unplayable upon first glance and the video poker offerings are generally substandard. But if the advantage player looks closely enough, opportunities can be located and profits can be made.

One thing to keep in mind for the casinos in Missouri is the $500 loss limit rule. Gamers are only allowed to buyin for $500 per 2 hour "session". Sessions start at the top of the hour, varying from odd or even, depending on the casino. If youíre a green chip player, the best strategy is to hoard chips by buying in for the maximum at the end of one session and then again at the start of the next session. For example, if the session starts on the even hour, a player could buy-in for $500 at 1:59PM, then for $500 more at 2:00PM. Another option is to find an abandoned players card inside the casino and use it to buy-in on a slot machine. Almost all machines are ticket-in ticket-out now, so this is an easy process. After cashing out, take the ticket to the cage and exchange for chips. It is not advisable to use another patronís card to buy-in at the tables since that requires human interaction and raises the possibility of getting caught using another personís card. Using someone elseís card to circumvent the buy-in is against Missouri Gaming Commission regulations and could subject a player to ejection from the facility, so it is strongly recommended that discretion is used when employing this method.






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