Posts Tagged ‘high-stakes blackjack’

Gamblers Take Tropicana Casino for $5.3 Million

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Last month, I wrote about how casinos aren’t worried about card counters. Despite a blackjack player taking the Tropicana Casino for $5.8 million over a month’s time, single-handedly ruining their month and putting them at their first blackjack loss, events like that are few and far between. In the grand scheme of things, events like that actually help casinos due to the publicity.

Having said that, you really don’t want to have it happen twice within a short amount of time. Unfortunately for the Tropicana Casino, it did. Just a few weeks after the man, now identified as Don Johnson, won $5.8 million from them at the blackjack tables, someone else took them for $5.3 million. That’s $11 million lost from only two players only weeks apart.

This time it was a craps player, who, like the previous blackjack player, took advantage of the high-stakes games. The casino refuses to back down from the high-stakes strategy, though, insisting that in the long run it will help them. In the meantime, even if they’re paying out big winnings, at least they have increased excitement for the casino.

Last year, Carl Icahn bought the Tropicana Casino after it went bankrupt. In an effort to make back lost money and bring in business quickly, they opted for an aggressive strategy of offering high-stakes games. It was working for a while, until these two players came along. The casino maintains that they can handle these setbacks, though, and no adjustments to staff or comps will be made. According to CEO Tony Rodio, who recently took over the job, Icahn plans to invite Johnson back to the casino. That shows that they aren’t afraid, don’t hold a grudge and, most importantly, think they can win that money back.

Blackjack Player Takes Casino for Nearly $6 Million

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

High-stakes games are risky. That is why they have the name “high stakes.” They are risky for the player, who has a chance of losing a great deal of money. They are also risky for the casino, who stands to lose a lot of money if the player wins. Generally speaking, there is more risk on the player because of the house edge, but sometimes they come out on top. For an Atlantic City casino, a risky business strategy recently backfired, with one blackjack player taking them for almost $6 million.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort was looking for a way to boost business. CEO Mark Giannantonio came up with the idea of offering high-stakes blackjack games and heavily promoting those games. For a while, it worked. High rollers played more blackjack at the casino and the casino made more money. And then the house’s luck ran out. In a single sitting, one skilled (and lucky) blackjack player won $5.8 million at high-stakes blackjack.

Giannantonio said it was “the single-largest winner in our history.” He also said that “if it hadn’t been for bad luck at the tables, we would have had a good month.” Giannantonio has been fired as CEO and will be replaced by Tony Rodio on June 1. No one will say whether the high-stakes strategy is what got Giannantonio fired, but it is clear that in this case, his risky strategy backfired.

I don’t advocate playing high-stakes blackjack games. With the house edge, the odds are against you coming out on top. This player, who they have wisely not named, was able to take advantage of the risky strategy, though. It may have been bad for the casino and for Giannantonio, but it was undoubtedly great for the player.

A Word on Retro Blackjack

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Maybe you’ve always wanted to play blackjack but you’re a little intimidated. You’ve read up on strategy and have played friendly games at home wagering with peanuts. You’re still a little worried about starting a real game, though, partly because of the money involved. There are two ways to handle this problem. The first, as I have written about before, is by playing free online blackjack. Most online casinos have free blackjack games that you can play using fake money. The free games give you the change to practice your basic strategy without risking any of your money.

Once you have that down, though, you will logically want to step up to a real money game. While the upside of the free blackjack games is that you don’t risk losing any money, the downside is that you can’t win any money, either. With real money games, there is greater risk but there is also greater reward.

It would be foolish to go straight from the free games to high-stakes blackjack tables. Betting hundreds on each hand may not be a good idea for anyone and if it is, it’s only for the rich and experienced blackjack players. Instead, I suggest finding a table with the lowest betting limits. Both online casinos and brick and mortar casinos have blackjack tables with a wide range of betting limits.

To accommodate people looking for a lower risk to blackjack, many casinos have started holding “retro blackjack.” Making a blackjack game retro can mean many things, but it often entails setting up an ambiance that reflects an older time and having low betting limits that are not adjusted for inflation. In other words, the tables can have betting limits as low as $1, which was a lot more money back in the days of the retro casinos, but due to inflation everything costs more now, including (usually) casino bets.

Blackjack, of course, is the ultimate game of risk-reward. If you bet only $2 on each hand, you won’t win a whole lot of money when you win, but at least losing won’t be painful. If you have enough success betting $2, you might want to step up to $5 and then $10 and someday you might find yourself at that high-stakes table.

Until then, however, enjoy the thrill of putting your money, no matter how small the amount, up against the dealer and betting that you can outplay him. Even if it’s only $1 at stake, there is nothing like the experience of that challenge. It was true back in the casinos of old and it’s still true today.