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Best of John G. Brokopp
Is banning highly skilled blackjack players fair?2 January 2008
A word of warning to those contemplating learning how to play blackjack at an advanced level: If you become a student of the game and make playing decisions based upon mental computations of mathematical probability, you stand a good chance of being barred from even playing the game.
Just ask a reader whom I'll refer to simply as Bill. He has been barred from playing blackjack at two Northwest Indiana casinos, not for breaking any laws but for being a person deemed an undesirable guest for being able to play blackjack too skillfully.
At one of the properties, Blue Chip Casino & Hotel in Michigan City, he has been denied access to even set foot on the grounds. At Resorts East Chicago, according to Bill, he is still invited to play slots or any table game with the exception of blackjack.
Both casinos are acting within their rights. As Bill was told in response to a letter of complaint he wrote to the Indiana Gaming Commission, there are no laws on the books in the state that prohibit skilled players from playing table games. But casinos, just as with any other business, reserve the right to exclude individuals from patronizing their facilities. Blue Chip and Resorts merely exercised those rights.
In response to my inquiries, Blue Chip referred me to corporate headquarters (Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas) where a spokesman acknowledged the fact Bill has been barred from playing blackjack but offered no further comment.
A Resorts spokesman had no comment and would neither confirm nor deny the player had been barred from playing blackjack.
But is it fair? Bill doesn't deny he is a skilled player, but neither is he a high roller or a member of a team bent on taking the casinos for millions. He's an average guy who invested the time and effort it took to learn the math of the game and then set out with a $1,000 bankroll to see what he could do.
A professional computer consultant, Bill keeps meticulous records of his casino outings. Since taking his blackjack knowledge into the field last May 28, he had logged 151 playing sessions at 10 different casinos through November 28. He played a total of 396.5 hours and recorded 110 winning sessions and 41 losing sessions.
He is showing a profit of $10,767. His average profit for winning sessions is just $357 while his average loss for losing sessions is $696. Among the six casinos at which he's ahead, he shows a profit of less than $100 at three of them. He's a loser at four other destinations.
Is this the gambling profile of a player who poses a danger to the precious bottom line of casino table game divisions? I don't think so.
Bill is a person casinos identify as an "advantage player". But neither is he a compulsive gambler or somebody who cheats. He looked upon becoming a skilled player as a challenge, little knowing that guests who play blackjack at such an advanced level immediately come under scrutiny.
Bill isn't a heavy hitter by casino standards. He'll normally buy in for $500 at a $10 table and play for average of just under three hours. Depending upon the situation, he will increase his bet up to $80 or $120 and sometimes play two spots.
On the other hand, there are players who step up to $100 minimum games and buy in for thousands of dollars.
What's important is that Bill's predicament illustrates how jealousy the casinos protect the advantage they hold over players. Blackjack is the only game in which the odds fluctuate; something advantage players can track and attempt to capitalize on.
Casino owners don't bother themselves with players who bag slot jackpots or make killings at any other table game. The house edge is relentless and they know those winners will be back for sessions that Lady Luck will not be so kind.
CASINO NEWS: The Wizard of Oz-themed video slot is starting to pop up at casinos in the Chicago area, including Harrah's Joliet and Empress Joliet. The entertaining game is the second release in WMS Gaming's Sensory Immersion product line, and, just like Top Gun, the special features and bonus round components are spectacular. The Oz characters come to life on the screen and the Bose audio enhanced melodies from the 1939 MGM movie classic are enchanting. Everyone will love this game.
World Series of Poker Texas Hold'em Bonus Poker, which recreates the excitement of the popular poker room staple in a table game format, is now available at Harrah's Joliet Casino.
In the event you were wondering where the video poker progressive banks at Empress Joliet Casino have gone, they've been relocated from the main level to the lower level of the casino. Much of the property's video poker product has been consolidated in an area on the floor to the right as you step off the escalator.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp