TUNICA TRIP REPORT
By Ted Salveson
Ted Salveson is an experienced blackjack player and a scratch golfer. He gets Ďweakí when his casino host uses the words "Las Vegas" and "golf tournament" in the same sentence. He is a dice controller "in training" and currently learning Speed Count for blackjack.
Note: The observations made in this report were take at the end of June, 2007.
There is nothing like Las Vegas. But sometimes itís fun to take a short side trip to Tunica. My wife likes it because the flight from Orlando to Memphis is only 90 minutes, as opposed to the five hours it takes to get to Vegas. My "host" in Tunica is actually the Regional Director of Marketing for Resorts. He scheduled a golf tournament for the end June, and, well, I just had to go.
Resorts is the old Harrahís casino. It is one of the smaller properties in town, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. We have always found that there is a level of personal service and interaction not often found in larger places. And for those thirty or so players in town for Nickís tournament, this weekend was no exception.
The golf tournament was on Sunday. They have a very interesting format where everyone just plays a relaxed round with their friends. It is designed as a team "Skins Game" but nobody knows who is on what team until afterwards. They flight the players according to what you shoot, and blind draw for teams. Then they blind draw nine holes for the "skin" holes, 3 worth $1000, 3 at $2000, and 3 for $3000. The team scores are low two balls out of four. And in the event of a tie, the A player from each tied team draws cards from a deck. High card takes the hole.
I was surprised, because I had not played golf since my trip to Vegas the first week in May. But sometimes your body just wants to react for you. I made seven birdies on the day, and shot 31 on the back nine. Unfortunately all that got me was one skin. At least it was a $3,000 hole, so we all got $750. It might have been better, but I got outdrawn with the cards on another hole.
Meanwhile, when I returned to the casino to find my wife, she was in exceptionally fine spirits. She informed me that she had been at the center bar with the live entertainment listening to the music and playing the quarter video poker when she hit the progressive Royal Flush for $1,143. A buddy of mine congratulated her and asked how many she had ever hit. Her answer: "Counting today, One."
The casino was not as kind to me. The craps table was especially punitive. The bounces were all bad. I did manage a small victory at blackjack, but the weekend did cost me about $2,000 at the tables. It was really nice, however, to see there were NO 6-5 blackjack games anywhere in Resorts. They donít have any single deck games, but all of the double deck and shoe games have gone back to 3-2. And I found the pen to be, if not exceptional, at least very acceptable. The only thing they hold back is you can only split Aces once, and that only applies to the double decks. And they hit soft 17 on all games. Otherwise the rules we all like to see are present. My buddy/host Nick told me they saw a big drop in what he called "significant play" at all of the 6-5 tables. So they made the decision to get rid of them. Ballys (the second Resorts property in the market) will be following suit. Nickís brother is in management at Fitzgeralds, and Nick expects them to do the same. It is a shame that others continue trying to rake a larger portion of an increasingly smaller fan base with bad games. I went over to the area where Gold Strike, Horseshoe and Sheraton are clustered together. Walking through all of them there was a disconcerting plethora of 6-5 blackjack games throughout the floors.
The short trip is nice, but I already know there is a golf tournament at Luxor in September and I am already booked on a flight. Itís Vegas, and I canít wait.
Editorís Note: We are planning a more detailed report on blackjack conditions in Tunica for the October BJI. Stay tuned.
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