I’m back from another trip to Las Vegas and had some experiences that prompt me to write about dealer mistakes.
I’m actually surprised that I don’t see more dealer errors than I do. There’s a lot going on in the pit and at the tables, and their work hours can contribute to being tired while working. One dealer was literally falling asleep at the table. I was playing a double deck game, also sometimes referred to as a toss game because the cards are tossed face down onto the table. She’d deal the cards and then take a nap while the players (there were only two of us) looked at the cards and made a decision about the play. Just about the time when I was trying to think of a polite way to nudge her awake, her eyes would pop open and she’d really I was signaling my play.
I try not to play tired – after all, the casino is open 24/7 and the blackjack table is still going to be there when I wake up, regardless of when I go to sleep. But sometimes I get complacent or distracted.
Mistake #1 happened while I was playing while distracted by another player, who was rather inebriated. Let’s just say he was a rather animated addition to the table, and had adopted me as his new best friend. Again, my drunk buddy and I were the only ones at the table. He flipped over his cards to show a blackjack. I had 13, a crappy hand against the dealer’s 2 but there was nothing I could do but tuck the cards under my chips and hope the dealer busted. While the dealer was paying the blackjack, the player was drunkenly eloquent and loud about his blackjack playing strategy. It distracted both the dealer and I to the point that I didn’t notice the dealer never played my hand – and neither did he. He flipped over the down card and swept up them up and put them in the discard tray, as would be appropriate if there were no more “live” hands to play, then proceeded to deal the next hand. It wasn’t until the card landed in front of me – and behind the cards from the prior hand still tucked under the chips – that I realized the mistake and pointed it out to him.
I don’t even remember what the dealer had except that there wasn’t a 10 or ace under that 2, so there was a really good chance he would’ve made his hand without busting and I would’ve lost. As it turns out, the pit boss opted to scratch my prior hand and the current hand, and then shuffle the deck.
The second mistake was the same table, different dealer, playing heads up (different day, so my “buddy” wasn’t around). I wasn’t tired, I’d just become complacent. It’s my only excuse. Both the dealer and I made an error. He was showing an ace up, so he checked to see if he had blackjack. I was checking my cards to see what I had and saw him flip both cards over, as a dealer would if s/he had a blackjack, so I just flipped my cards over, which is what a player does when the dealer has blackjack. Turns out he didn’t have a blackjack. In some casinos, I’ve seen the pit boss allow the hand to continue being played under the circumstances, a one-hand “double exposure,” as it were, sometimes asking the players if they want to play the hand, or scratch it and then allowing it to be played if the players choose that option. In this case, the pit boss just decided to scratch the hand.
However, in my own experience these are relatively rare errors. The most common error I’ve encountered – as I did once again this trip – is the dealer sweeping up my chips when I’ve actually pushed the hand. The other two mistakes really didn’t cost me anything but time (15 minutes of table down time in the case of the first incident), but this kind of mistake will cost you chips so make sure you always check the dealer’s hand to make sure they’re right about what they have, and make sure you’re getting paid appropriately for your hand.
I admit when I first learned how to play blackjack, I had two sources of information: my friends and the dealers. I was still kind of wobbly about strategy and up to that point still depended heavily on advice from others. I hadn’t yet discovered the websites where I’ve since learned how to play. I went to Reno and thus had no friends to turn to for guidance. I was playing at a table with only one other player, who had a big stack of chips in front of him. (I’ve learned since that this isn’t really an accurate indication of how someone is doing – for all I know, he bought in for twice what he had in front of him). When I asked the dealer about a play I was unsure about, the guy let me know how stupid it is to ask the dealer for advice. He was nice about it, but still…. it kind of ruffled my baby blackjack feathers a bit.
In my experience, most dealers will give correct basic strategy play advice. Very few, however, know the strategy variations for different game rules; i.e., hit soft 17 or stand on soft 17, 2-deck v. 6-deck v. single deck, etc. However, if you don’t know basic strategy, you won’t know when the dealer’s advice is wrong. Remember, the dealer always plays a hand the same way, regardless, with the only variation being hit soft 17. They don’t split or double down. They don’t have to decide whether or not to hit a stiff hand that doesn’t add up to 17. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that the dealer doesn’t know the correct strategy for players.
Sometimes, you’re going to run into a dealer who, for whatever reason, gives the worst possible advice. I have had to about wire my jaw shut to keep from asking them if they don’t know any better or if they’re just trying to mess up the players on purpose. Since they LIKE getting tips, I have to conclude it’s the former – but I’m not always sure about that.
On my most recent trip to Las Vegas I sat down at a table with three other players, some guys from the Midwest in Vegas to have fun. It quickly became obvious they didn’t know basic strategy. I hadn’t yet bought in and was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to stay at a table and play with a bunch of noobs, when the dealer dealt two 7s to one of them, then turned up a 10. The player with the 7s asked the dealer what he should do. To my surprise, the dealer said, “I’d split those.” I about fell out of my chair. Then, he dealt a 3 on the first hand and told the guy, “that’s a good double down.” I picked myself up off the floor. Of course, the guy lost both hands – it was terrible advice. Fortunately, the dealer was the relief dealer. When he left a few minutes later, I broke one of my own rules. I turned to the player and told him I’ve never seen a dealer give worse advice. The player admitted he didn’t know the game well enough to know whether or not it was, so he played it as directed. One of his friends asked me why I didn’t say anything and I gave my stock answer: because you didn’t ask me.
I’ll also be the first to tell you not to trust advice from other players. I had just sat down at the table and these guys didn’t know whether or not I know how to play. They didn’t know enough about basic strategy to know whether or not I was giving them good advice, either. All they knew is that I was telling them the dealer had given bad advice. I’ve seen plenty of players at a table give equally bad advice.
Bottom line? Don’t trust strangers with your money. Learn how to play the game before you sit down to play. Go to Blackjack Info and print the basic strategy cards (free!). You can buy them in the gift shop at the casino, but why give them more of your money? (I have also heard they aren’t as accurate as the Blackjack Info basic strategy engine, but I have no personal experience with that, since I’ve never purchased them.) The casinos have no problem with players using the basic strategy cards at the table. If you think you look like an idiot when you have to use a basic strategy card to play, consider the alternative.
I just returned from another trip to Las Vegas and realized I haven’t posted any updates. This was actually my fourth trip in about 7 months, so I certainly should have been more active here at my blog.
Let’s talk about playing blackjack without fear. Aside from people who just haven’t taken the time to learn how to play blackjack, the second biggest factor I see with losers is not making correct plays because of the fear of losing.
Let me digress for a minute and discuss chips. There are only 3 ways a player can build on a stack of chips: (1) increase the bet; (2) play all appropriate splits; and (3) play all appropriate double downs. Can you lose doing that? Sure you can! But flat-betting and not taking splits and double downs is going to bring you down even faster. For me, splits and double downs are the most exciting part of blackjack; you can either win big or lose big.
I was playing a 6-deck shoe game and had the opportunity to split a pair of 7s against a dealer showing a 4. The dealer bust-out rate when showing a 4 is almost as good as it is for a 6; almost, but not quite. Splitting 7s against a dealer 4 is the appropriate play. The dealer dealt me a 3 and I doubled down. The next card was another 7, so I split again. I got something crappy – not a good hand but nothing I could hit or double. The last hand was dealt a 4, giving me another double down. Unfortunately, it was another crappy card and I couldn’t do anything about it. At that point, I had 18 chips out on the table. The dealer didn’t bust and swept up all my chips. Flash forward another 30 minutes or so, I get dealt two 6s with the dealer showing a 6. Of course, I split these again. I got dealt two more 6s, doubled down two of the four hands – and once again, the dealer didn’t bust, sweeping up another 18 of my chips. At that point, the guy sitting next to me shook his head and said: “I don’t have the guts to play like that.”
OK, I would’ve lost less money if I’d stayed on my 14 and my 12. Conversely, if the dealer hadn’t busted, I would’ve lost just as much in opportunity. Trust me, I would’ve kicked myself if I hadn’t played it and the dealer had busted. I had no regrets playing those hands the way I did because it was the right way to play them.
I can’t tell you how often I see people afraid to take splits and double downs because they’re afraid of losing. Hell, I’ve seen plenty of people not hit a stiff hand when they should, because they’re afraid of busting and losing. Most of the time, these are players at $5 and $10 minimum tables – which makes absolutely no sense to me. You don’t see many people playing like that at the $25, $50 and $100 and up tables. Why? Because they know it will lose them money faster than just playing fearlessly! No guts, no glory. I’ve played many hands like the one described above. I’ve doubled down hand after hand and lost time after time. I’ve also played those hands and won lots of money and played my double downs and won more money. Players have to remember that blackjack is a mathematical game and there is no guessing in math: it’s a finite science. Take splits when appropriate, double down when appropriate, hit when appropriate. If you don’t, you’re giving more of an advantage to the casino, which means you’re going to lose money faster. Fear will cost you.
I actually had a request for a post on this topic, so here it is!
I can’t speak for other players, but I can tell you what plays piss me off – so if you’re playing at a table with me and you make one of these moves, you will piss me, the other player, off.
Hitting a stiff hand against a dealer bust card: This is just a bonehead play, people. There’s no excuse for it. Let me put it in the most simple terms possible.
If the dealer is showing a 5 or a 6 (both known as “bust cards”) and your hand totals 12 (also known as a “stiff hand”) or more don’t hit it.
That is NEVER a hit. Got it?
Staying on any stiff hand: This is what’s known as the no-bust strategy; i.e., if there is even the slightest possibility of busting by taking a card, the player will not hit the hand. This player will stay on every stiff hand (see definition of “stiff hand” given above), no matter what.
Players who inconsistently hit or stay on a stiff hand: C’mon, I know you know what I’m talking about. These players will hit a stiff hand against a dealer bust card – then stay on it against a dealer 10. There seems to be absolutely no logic – or strategy – behind their play decisions. They might as well toss a coin – heads I hit, tails I stay.
In spite of the fact that we know (statistically speaking) that players who make bad plays do not affect the other players over time, it’s still difficult when there are players at the table who make one bad move after another. I try to maintain my own zen (not always successfully) about how others play the game. I don’t sigh, or groan or tell them how to play or what they’re doing wrong. I come here to my blog and bitch about them, instead. This does not mean I’m not cursing them under my breath. I suggest if it really bothers you, find another table (if possible) – but it’s more realistic to just learn how to ignore bad plays by other players because almost every table you sit at will have at least one of those players. If you play blackjack for fun, as I do, and you’re not having fun – well, draw your own conclusion.
And, by the way – if you just can’t resist criticizing other players for how they play – make damn sure you have your own act together. Unless you have memorized the correct basic strategy plays for the rule variations you’re playing, keep your mouth shut. Half the so-called experts at a blackjack table don’t know any more than the person they’re yelling at and frequently pitch a fit over what is actually correct play.
Oh, what a fun time I had at the casino last week! I had the dubious delight of playing at the same table as two very strong personalities, both of whom I suspect to have small to large gambling problems.
The 24-Hour Guy
The first was a dapper fellow who seemed to determine to lose as much money as possible in the time he was within spitting distance of a casino – so apparently he chose not to sleep. I was hoping he was fastidious enough about his appearance to go to the hotel every so often to shower and change (in his case, a cold shower or he would’ve fallen asleep standing up). He was playing primarily at the $5 minimum table, but he had only green and black chips ($25 and $100, respectively, for those of you not acquainted with casinos) and was usually playing at least $100 and up to the table maximum of $300. He occasionally also played the $10 minimum table and the double deck games. During the shuffle (hand shuffle at this casino), he would play the slots.
As far as I could determine, 24H Guy had no betting strategy. His betting was all over the board, jumping from $25 up to $300 in an apparently random way. He also wasn’t a very nice person. In the 3 days (without sleep!) I watched him play at this casino, he never once tipped the dealer. He bummed cigarettes from his fellow players and I never heard him offer any kind of token compensation. By the second day, he was beginning to grumble and grouse about how other people played their hands and how they bet – and it was starting to piss people off. One player started making crazy plays – hitting a stiff hand against a dealer bust card or standing on 6 or 7 against a dealer 10 – for no other reason than to piss 24H Guy off. She didn’t even care that these moves caused her to lose – players and dealers alike were pretty fed up with the guy.
But it’s a hard fact of life in the casino – if there’s someone who’s won big money and they are then doing their best to lose it all before they leave, they would have to be very, very offensive to the other players before casino personnel step in and say something to them. And he wasn’t being overtly obnoxious – his annoying behaviors were very subtle, taking digs at other players for playing the minimum bet (what – did he think everyone was willing to lose as much money as he was?) and grousing quietly about plays he didn’t find agreeable.
The Noisy Drunk
It’s like there’s some unwritten code that every casino must have a regular player who is a noisy drunk and the casino I like to play at has one that is a personality and then some. This guy comes in mornings – and at 9 a.m., he’s already fully loaded and still chugging down more beer.
Fortunately for everyone, he’s a very gregarious and friendly drunk. Everyone in the casino knows his name because he happily introduces himself in such a loud voice that you can hear him throughout the entire pit – and sometimes half the casino, depending on how much he’s had to drink. Once he’s entered the casino, any hope of a quiet game of blackjack (or anything else) flies out the window. He’s one of those people who shouts “Yeah, baby! Hit me!” or “C’mon, baby, gimme a 10!” or “Hit it again!” – among other things, but you get the idea. Every hit, every blackjack, every win – for himself and frequently for other players at the table – is loudly announced. It’s like sitting next to a speaker at a stadium during a ball game.
His effusive congratulations (self and otherwise) aren’t limited to his table, either. He likes to stand up while playing, apparently so he can carry his enthusiasm over to other tables. Because, of course, everyone in the casino is his friend, whether or not he knows their name or has ever seen them before – or can even remember having seen them before. He will come over to another table and hug someone he thinks is a buddy. Not an especially pleasant experience for me, since I don’t like being hugged by friends, much less strangers or casual acquaintances, and he wears a muscle shirt and smells boozy. I put on my best “don’t even think about it” body language, which he has cheerfully ignored on more than one occasion.
This trip, however, was the first time I had the occasion to play at the same table and I discovered that he likes to coach players. Unlike 24H Guy, he’s not a perfect basic strategy player and he “coaches” people in error – or loudly proclaims your error in the friendliest way possible.
After awhile, the loud drunk guy gets on my nerves. He’s funny and entertaining for about the first 10 minutes, but after that it becomes annoying, especially when he’s playing at the same table. OK – it’s annoying when he’s at another table, too, because he is SO LOUD.
For me, half of playing blackjack is social and playing at the same table with these two personalities definitely wasn’t a good social experience. I was up a couple hundred dollars, so I cashed out and left.
I was recently playing at a Southern California casino and – as usual – there was someone at the table moaning and groaning about how everyone else played their hand.
Seriously, she almost screamed (and not in delight) when another player contemplated splitting his pair of 9s against the dealer’s 3. He wavered and decided to stand on the hand.
It might have made the woman happy, but it was the wrong move.
If you’re a new blackjack player – and you haven’t studied Basic Strategy – you might be thinking to yourself: “Huh? Wha…? Split a pair of 9s against a dealer 3? But a pair of 9s is a winning hand against a dealer 3!”
That’s probably what most new blackjack players think – and apparently, a lot of “experienced” blackjack players, as well.
Ask yourself something – how do you advance your chip count in blackjack?
- You raise your bets.
- You split whenever possible.
- You double down whenever possible.
- All of the above
Basic Strategy says you’re going to split that pair of 9s against a dealer up card of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.
Yes, that’s what it says. And here’s why…
It should be obvious why you’re going to split them against a dealer’s 2-6. Any time you can, you’re going to try and increase your chip count by splitting. What’s the worst that can happen? If the deck is rich in 10s, instead of having one hand of 18, you’re going to have two hands of 19 or possibly 20 (if you get an Ace). If the deck is depleted of 10s, you may catch a 2, which will give you a double down against a dealer bust card and another opportunity to increase your chip count. In any case, you’re going to have 2 hands to play against a dealer bust card.
But why, you may ask, am I splitting them against an 8 or a 9?
If the dealer is showing an 8 and you expect the down card is a 10, all you have is a push – and you may be okay with that. The Wizard of Odds says to stay on this hand, but it appears to me the cost of splitting versus standing is minimal and I can’t find any other statistics on split v. stand on this play. All things being equal, I’ll go with the Basic Strategy engine, which says split it. If the shoe is heavy with 10s, you’ve got a good chance of improving your 18 to two better hands of 19 or 20. If it’s light with 10s, then you have a good chance of a getting a 3 or 4 and a double down on one or both of your hands.
I always split against a dealer 9. An 18 is not a winning hand if the dealer has a 10 or an Ace under the 9 they’re showing. If you stand on this hand, you’ll beat the dealer’s hand (on average) 8 hands out of 20. If you split this hand, your chances of beating the dealer’s hand improves to about even.
Now, I could understand if the woman mentioned at the beginning of this story was upset about a player contemplating splitting 9s against a dealer 7, 8 or 9. A lot of players don’t know those are splits; or, even if they know it, they may choose not to split. But to have a fit about splitting 9s against a dealer 3? Another bonehead move and another reason why you should learn Basic Strategy for yourself and not let the other players at the table influence how you play.
Finally made it to The Spa Casino and ran into my old buddy, the blackjack “expert.” I’d say she’s ba-ack, except she probably never left. So… I’m ba-ack.
This time, in addition to giving advice to everyone on how to play their cards, I learned she also has a strong belief (and opinions) about the table. Apparently, all the spots that are being played when she sits down must stay in play for as long as she sits there, or something bad happens to the deck and “turns the cards.” The monologue titled “How the Table Turns” is carried on in the absence of any player for any reason. If someone leaves the table and she doesn’t win during their absence, it’s all because they left and the “table turned” as a sole result of the absence. If she continues to lose after their return, it’s because they were gone and the table has continued to be “bad” as a result. If she starts winning on someone’s return, then it’s because the tabled “needed” that player so the cards would be “good.” If she continues to lose, she will move to another table, apparently hoping that it’s “good.” But don’t breathe a sigh of relief – she’ll be back. I find it ironic that she’s an inveterate table-hopper.
Folks, try not to be superstitious about blackjack. It’s always good to keep in mind that the strategies and odds are calculated by mathematicians. Since I’m pretty lousy at math, I try not to second-guess them. If the Wizard of Odds says other players don’t affect your win/loss over time – I believe him.
Speaking of which – here’s a pretty funny thing that happened this trip. The guy playing third base at the table one morning kept signaling to hit a stiff hand against a dealer 5 or 6. The first time it happened, he took the card that would’ve made the dealer’s hand and everyone forgot to yell at him, since it saved the table. The next time he signaled a hit on this kind of hand, the person next to him talked him out of it. Guess what? If he had hit it, he would’ve taken the card that made the dealer’s hand – again. When this happened a third time, I said “quit talking him out of it!” I have seen this man in the casino before and concluded that he’s not a card counter, but I may have to watch him again. If he isn’t, he’s pretty damn lucky!
One thing I started observing this trip is the betting strategy of other players. Or, more accurately, the apparent lack of betting strategy. I’ve watched people bet all over the place, with no apparent rhyme or reason. They rarely bet the minimum but beyond that, anything seems to go. When they win, they usually win big because they’re (apparently) randomly putting out large bets. But their chip count also seems to vary wildly, quickly going up to a couple hundred chips, then swinging just as wildly down to only a couple chips. These are the people that frequently go “all in” after a series of wild swings like this. I’ve seen some win – I’ve seen some lose. For you new blackjack players, I’ll give you the benefit of my observation – people who bet like this seem to hit their wallet more than the people who are careful or seem to be following some kind of strategy.
Never be impressed with the number of chips someone cashes out with unless you know what they bought in for. A guy cashing out $1200 in chips might have bought in for $2000. Someone cashing out for $300 might have bought in for $40.
Several events have transpired to prevent me from playing blackjack.
One is that the casinos in Palm Springs seem to have changed their comps structure somewhat and I’m no longer being given free rooms. In fact, the last time I was at The Spa, the woman at the rewards desk was somewhat rude when I asked about comps. Apparently, the fact that I’m not there every week redeeming every available offer made to me counts against me. Given that attitude, I’m not holding my breath that the free hotel nights will return even when the Palm Springs season ends. Ah well – it was a great deal while it lasted and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
Another factor is my friend who lives in Palm Springs is busy with her life right now and just isn’t in a place where she can handle guests, so I’ve lost my other free accommodation.
But most important, I terminated everyone who works for me and now I’m doing all the work myself. Yeah – it’s a drag and I hate it, but since I haven’t won millions in the lottery, it is what it is. It’s not that it’s a full-time job, just enough that the 2 to 2-1/2 hour drive to the nearest casino isn’t feasible for a day trip if I also have to get my work done.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet??
So, last night I dreamed I went to Las Vegas and I spent the entire night looking for a decent blackjack game. I found myself in a film noir version of downtown Las Vegas, not the Strip. There were all these twisting streets, strange entries to casinos, casinos behind casinos… about what you’d expect from withdrawal dreams. And during this entire night of going in and out of casinos, I couldn’t find ONE decent blackjack game – kind of reminded me of my last trip to Vegas, actually. Only weirder.
Maybe I need to pull out the felt and the shoe and just practice my blackjack for about an hour. It’s not quite the same, but it might hold off full withdrawal for awhile.
If there’s something I wish I could teach new blackjack players, it would be to boycott tables that pay 6:5 on a blackjack.
The Gaming Commission doesn’t regulate the payouts in blackjack. The house has every right to set them at whatever they want. The game of blackjack, however, has traditionally paid 3:2 on a blackjack. First, we saw single deck games go to a 6:5 payout. Now, the payout of 6:5 for blackjack is rampant in Las Vegas. I’m not even going to get into the number of 8-deck shoes I saw on the Strip. When I was in Vegas last year, it hadn’t spread to the downtown area, and the downtown casinos were full of the more savvy players who were refusing to play the Strip games paying 6:5. This year, however, there were casinos downtown paying 6:5 on blackjack, and the ones that didn’t were not allowing double down after split and/or splitting of aces more than once.
Folks – just boycott blackjack 6:5 okay? Do the blackjack-playing community a favor and refuse to play it. I suspect I can say this until I’m blue in the face and even if this blog goes viral, there will be no shortage of people going to Vegas or other venues and playing blackjack without a clue. But if you read this blog, now you know better – and you have no excuse.
Let me make something clear: the house always has an advantage and you will, over time, lose money. The only time you can play blackjack with an advantage is if you’re counting the cards. So why look for the game with the lowest house advantage? Well – why do you look for the best deal at the grocery store? Why do you wait until that big screen TV you want goes on sale before you buy it? Go to Vegas, have a good time, but at least make your money go further.
Let’s say you find what seems to be a typical game of blackjack on the Strip these days: 8-deck shoe, dealer hits soft 17, you can only split aces once, you can double down after a split (except aces), you can double down on any two first cards, and blackjack pays 6:5. The house advantage on that game is just slightly over 2%. Now – make the blackjack pay at 3:2 and the house edge is just under 0.65%. See the difference? Make it a 6-deck shoe, same rules, paying 6:5 and the house edge moves slightly, to just under 2%. Same game paying 3:2 moves the house edge to a little under 0.62%.
By playing the 6:5 game, you’re giving the house almost 1.5% advantage over you.
That’s like buying that big-screen TV this week at full price, even if you’ve been told it will go on sale for half the price next week. It doesn’t make much sense, does it?
I knew that Harrah’s was on their way to spoiling what was probably the friendliest little casino on the Las Vegas Strip (O’Shea’s) when I was there last year, but this year confirmed it.
My husband has a conference he’s attended in Vegas for years now. It’s been at Caesar’s all but one year, and that’s where we’ve stayed. I liked O’Shea’s because it’s a small place, right across the street from Caesar’s. I could go there early in the morning, before my husband woke up, get a decent cup of coffee in a decent-size cup and play $5 minimum blackjack and talk to the dealers, all of whom I’ve found to be very friendly. The tables were all hand shuffled and they played pretty good rules on blackjack. Shoes were 6 deck, they played a couple of double deck tables and a couple of single deck tables. If you play early in the day, as I did, you could easily get a seat at one of the $5 tables. Later in the day, when it’s busier, they shut down to only one $5 table – but I was usually gone by then, anyway. They hit soft 17, but you could resplit aces and you can double down on any two cards (except, of course, aces).
Now – O’Shea’s and Caesar’s are both owned by Harrah’s. I don’t know how long Harrah’s has owned O’Shea’s, but if it’s been for a long time, then they left well enough alone until the last two years or so. And maybe the tanking economy inspired the ridiculous raping of customers that I’m seeing in Las Vegas this year. I can’t figure out why people are still flocking there, but I can tell you I was somewhat relieved when my husband said we probably won’t be going to this conference again. If I’m going to go to Vegas, I’m going to find the best deals – and Harrah’s properties aren’t it.
Let’s talk about Caesar’s itself for just a minute. The only deal they gave me was an upgrade to the Palace Tower at no additional charge, which was nice of them. I booked in one of the older towers because my husband wasn’t sure his company would reimburse him this year. But still – you’re talking at the conference price almost $200 a night. In a day and age when most hotels are offering free wireless internet, Caesar’s is charging a whopping $14.99/day for a wired connection to the internet, and $24.99/day for each wireless connection. Yes, you read that right – $24.99 per connection. If my husband and I had both wanted to wirelessly connect to the internet using our laptops, it would’ve cost nearly $50/day. I was glad to have my AT&T wireless air card because in the four days we were there, it would’ve cost me more for the wired connection at Caesar’s than I pay for a month of air card service. Suffice it to say that I’d never stay at Caesar’s if someone else wasn’t paying for it.
Last year, I didn’t play much at O’Shea’s because when I walked in, I saw that all the tables were paying 6:5 on blackjack. I don’t play games that pay 6:5 blackjack. I didn’t check out anything else, so I’m not sure if the changes I saw this year happened a year ago – and I just didn’t look close enough last year – or if they happened in the interim. But – given some time constraints I was working with, I was really hoping O’Shea’s would have something worth playing because I couldn’t really spend a lot of time tromping up and down the Strip. So I tried to look past the 6:5 blackjack to see if there was anything else that might compel me to sit down and play in spite of that.
What I found was actually pretty horrifying. And not just in terms of what a great place O’Shea’s used to be, but in terms of blackjack games in general.
First of all, in addition to the 6:5 on blackjack, they’ve gone from a 6-deck shoe to an 8-deck shoe. You can’t get even money if you have a blackjack and the dealer has an A showing. You’re no longer allowed to resplit aces. All the double deck games are gone – they have 8-deck shoe and single deck.
This is not a game worth playing.
I fully understand that casinos are in business to make money and we would all be fools if we acted as though they weren’t. But at some point, consumers (and players in a casino are consumers) have to draw a line and refuse to feed corporate greed. I’m no economist but it seems to me that when people are hanging on to their money tighter, you have to offer them better deals. Harrah’s seem convinced that the opposite is true – squeeze as much money out of the few(er) customers you have.
I’m not sure when I’ll make it to Vegas again, but I can assure you that I won’t be staying or playing at a Harrah’s property.