Posts Tagged ‘Harrah’s casino’

Blackjack + exotic dancers = lower payouts

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

There is a recent trend in casino blackjack and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is in the eye of the beholder. The trend is combining table games with table dancing. Many brick and mortar casinos have started providing exotic dancers in “party pits” in the middle of blackjack areas. The thinking is that players will spend more time at the blackjack table if they get to watch half-naked women dancing on a pole while they do it.

Since my wife doesn’t read this blog, I can say that it would work for me. The hard part would be having enough concentration to stick to blackjack basic strategy. If you’re a card counter then I doubt you’d be able to do it with a hot girl table dancing right in front of you. So maybe that’s another reason for the trend: exotic dancers as card counting deterrents.

Some big-name casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City have turned to exotic dancers to provide entertainment to the blackjack players. Harrah’s, Mandalay Bay and Hard Rock (pictured above) are three examples of casinos that have added some skin to the scenery.

So is the trend a good thing? If you’re offended by exotic dancers (usually non-nude), then no, it’s not. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, then… maybe. Another recent trend at the casinos is lower payouts for the blackjack games. On average, those same casinos are dropping their blackjack payouts by 20% by dropping the payout ratio for a natural blackjack from 3:2 to 6:5.

The casinos say that the decreased payouts are necessary in order to pay for the entertainment of the dancers. Instead, it just seems like a convenient excuse. I understand that such entertainment comes at a cost and I can see there being a tradeoff if you’re basically paying extra to watch the dancers, but the problem is that not all of the blackjack players want to watch them. Some just want to play blackjack and when you play blackjack, you expect a 3:2 payout.

I imagine that the lower payouts will anger blackjack purists, who will take their games elsewhere, but the party pits will bring younger customers to the casino who may not have otherwise had any desire to play blackjack. If so, it could end up cancelling out and the casino doesn’t lose any money. So do I support the idea of exotic dancers performing in party pits while customers play blackjack? I guess so, as long as the casino keeps the payout at 3:2. If it’s 6:5, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not really blackjack. I’ll go to a strip club if I just want to pay to watch a girl dance.

Blackjack Variations: Quick Seven

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The thing about blackjack is that there are countless little tweaks you can make to the game to make a variant. Some are minor while others are big enough that it creates an entirely new game, such as pontoon or Spanish 21. There is a new blackjack variation that I have just read about called Quick Seven and it may soon be coming to a casino near you.

Quick Seven is the brainchild of a man named Larry Cockrell, who came up with the idea for this blackjack variation back when he drove concrete trucks for a living. Since then he has created a company called Innovate Gaming and is marketing Quick Seven.

Quick Seven is already available in some brick and mortar casinos, such as Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Iowa. It is also available as an iPhone app. There is not yet an online casino license for the blackjack variation, so online blackjack fans cannot yet play it online.

Since I don’t have an iPhone and you can’t play it online, I have not yet played this game, so I don’t know everything about it. I will tell you what I do know, though. Quick seven is a game where instead of trying to outdraw the dealer without going over 21, you can’t go over 7. With the lower number, one change in the game is how the cards are counted.

In a press release, Cockrell said that in blackjack, the most exciting part is when you draw a natural blackjack (10 and ace). That only happens, on average, once every 20 hands. “In Quick Seven,” he said, “the most exciting thing happens once every 13 hands or so, which is 53.8% more often than in blackjack.”

He seems to be talking about drawing a 2-card seven, which could be a 6 and ace, 5 and 2, or 4 and 3. Then again, the card values are different in this game, so that may not be the case. As with 21 in blackjack, drawing over a 7 in this game busts you. The game also has different rules for hitting, doubling, and standing, among other things.

The most exciting rule in Quick Seven that differentiates it from blackjack, though, seems to be the discard option. In Quick Seven, you have the option of discarding one of the cards in your hand if you have a bad card. I believe you can only discard once per hand and I’m not sure if you can do it if drawing a card busts you, but being able to discard opens up more options and gives players more control over the outcome of the hand.

I haven’t been able to play Quick Seven yet, but I am hoping I’ll find it at an online casino soon. Cockrell seems to think it’s only a matter of time before this variation takes the blackjack world by storm. If he’s right, then you heard about it here first… unless you already read about it somewhere else.

Man Sues Harrah’s Casino Over Ban

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Card counting is in the news again. A blackjack player in Las Vegas is suing Harrah’s Entertainment over the company banning him from their hotels. The man, Steven Silverstein, stated in his suit that Nevada law does not allow Harrah’s to deny him access to their casinos.

Back in September, Silverstein was playing blackjack at Paris Las Vegas, which is owned by Harrah’s, and was told to cash out and leave the casino. He was also told by the casino manager that they did not want him to return to that casino or any of Harrah’s casinos. He said that if Silverstein did try to return to the casino, he would be arrested.

Banning players for counting cards is nothing new. Though card counting without an external device is not illegal, the casinos do not like it and if they catch you doing it, you will be asked to leave and may be banned from returning as well. Recently, blackjack card counters have been fighting back by challenging the legality of those bans. There is no consensus about who is in the right.

Card counters say that the casinos have no right to deny them access simply because they count cards, since it’s not illegal. Others say that since the casinos are private businesses, they have the right to ban anyone they want from their establishments.

The courts have been inconsistent in their rulings so far, such as in a similar case in Indiana. In that state, a man who was banned for counting cards sued the casino. The court in that case ruled in favor of the casino, upholding their right to ban customers. The player then appealed and the appellate court ruled in favor of the card counter. The casino then appealed and the case is set to be heard by the state Supreme Court.

It’s impossible to tell how that case, Silverstein’s case, or any other will turn out. What this tells me is what I’ve always said about card counting. It is not illegal and it is not cheating as long as you do it only using your mind and nothing external to help you. However, I will neither encourage nor discourage card counting. Though it isn’t cheating, getting caught will get you in a lot of trouble with casinos. Therefore, there is a high risk to card counting, one that you need to consider before deciding whether to do it. Also consider that simply by playing blackjack basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to 0.5%, which is incredibly low for a casino game already.