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It was hit hard by skilled players before it was shut down. There was a bank of machines that offered video blackjack, where at the quarter denomination, blackjacks paid even money. The rules were single deck, double down only on 10 and 11, late surrender, a six-card hand was an automatic winner, no double after pair splitting, dealer hits soft 17, and no resplit of pairs.

Based on these rules a player had about a More importantly, when you used your slot club card, you racked up a lot of slot points quickly and the cash back was worth 0. Just as important, the skilled players knew that the variance or short-term risk for the blackjack game was a lot lower than a typical jacks-or-better video poker game.

The video poker pros were able to put a ton of money through the machines with little risk while racking up a lot of points on their players cards. It was a sweet deal, but it only lasted a short time before the folks at Bellagio pulled the plug on the game. Another video blackjack game is called Blackjack Blitz. It consists of five or six player stations arranged in a horseshoe with the "dealer" video screen in the middle facing the players.

The cards are dealt to each player's screen. Players push buttons to signal if they want to stand, hit, double, etc. I was able to take advantage of the Rio game and rack up points on my slot card before they pulled the plug on the game. Over at Hard Rock, they kept the game going, but re-programmed less player favorable rules making the game not worth playing. The third type of video blackjack, Digital 21, uses a live dealer.

Instead of plastic cards, electronic cards appear on a screen imbedded in the layout in front of players. Except for the electronic cards and electronic shuffling, it's a traditional game: Henry Tamburin is the author of Blackjack: For a free subscription to the newsletter visit www. For a free catalog call I love playing tournaments. I like the excitement of competing against other players instead of just playing against the house. This month I'll cover tournaments for two of the most popular table games, blackjack and craps.

Blackjack and craps tournaments are not as readily found as slot tournaments. This is due largely to the space requirements for these types of tournaments. Casinos have thousands of slot machines and it is no problem to shut down a couple banks of them to hold a tournament.

However, since the casinos have a smaller number of blackjack and craps tables available, it makes it difficult to close off tables for a tournament. This is why you will find many of the smaller blackjack and craps tournaments during the week, but some casinos also offer larger invitational tournaments that span several days. These are the tournaments held during the week to attract players into the casino. Daily tournaments usually have a modest entry fee. In some cases you may find a free tournament, although these are not as common as the free slot tournaments.

Invitational tournaments are sometimes held as a reward or comp for loyal players. There are also some invitational tournaments held for players who specified an interest in them on their player's club application. These are not open to the general public. Usually the tournament kicks off with a welcome party and wraps up with an awards banquet. Some of these last two or three days and include free lodging. If you have to pay an entry fee you will want to know how much money will be returned to the players.

The best paid tournaments to enter are the ones that give back all the entry fees in the form of prizes. The majority of the entry fees should be returned to the players. Casinos hold tournaments to attract players into their establishments. They will be making money from additional play made by the entrants. If the tournament is free, the prize money should be enough to justify your time to play.

Is the prize money guaranteed? Casinos should list the prizes and make this information available before you enter. You can take a look at the prize structure of a tournament and determine how much is being returned to the players.

If the tournament is free, you need to assess if it is worth your time to participate. Before you enter the tournament you should know all the rules. What will be required of you when playing? Is there a minimum bet and maximum bet? How many rounds will be played and how long will they last.

Not all tournaments are run the same way and you want to make sure you know all the rules before you start. Tournaments that last a few days usually have a welcoming party where all the rules are given to the players. I suggest that you find out ahead of time what the rules and prizes are before you travel to play in a tournament. If the promoters are hesitant about giving you all the rules up front, you may want to pass on that tournament.

Some tournaments can run for hours or even days. You should know how much time it will take. Some tournaments have you play an early round to qualify, with the final rounds later in the day. This is done to ensure that you will stick around and play while you are waiting for the next round of the tournament.

You should know if the tournament has a maximum or minimum number of players allowed to participate. This will give you an indication of the competition. Will you be using your own money or will you be given tournament chips?

Tournaments that use chips give each player a certain amount of starting chips. These tournaments have a fixed cost. Some of the blackjack and craps tournaments require players to use their own money. I once entered a craps tournament that was billed as a Roll-a-Thon. I called and made reservations and was told I would be given all the details about the tournament at the "Welcome Crapshooter Rules and Cocktail Party. I was in for a big surprise when the rules were handed out and the tournament was explained at the welcome party.

This tournament was a Sharpshooter Marathon. Each player would have their individual rolls tracked every time they shot the dice. The player with the most rolls over the four-day hour period would win the top prize. Then they explained the other details.

I participated in the tournament the first day. I received the dice to shoot only twice in an hour and a half. In that time I determined that this particular tournament was not a good value.

It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that the casino would earn enough money from the house edge to pay for all the prizes they were offering and more. I dropped out of the competition and was disappointed that I had made a special trip to Las Vegas to participate in this event. I had no one to blame but myself. It was my mistake for not demanding to know the rules up front before I made airline reservations.

Knowing all the rules ahead of time will save you from this type of surprise. Some tournaments let you sign up a day in advance, but most of the smaller ones have registration a few hours before the tournament starts. The first thing you will do is visit the registration table. This is where you will pay your entry fee and receive your time and table assignment.

You should have already read the rules, but this is a good time to take another look at them. If you have any questions about the rules this is the time to ask, not after the tournament has begun. Be prepared to be at your designated table about 15 minutes before you are scheduled to play. Many tournaments will disqualify you if you show up late. This will also give you a few minutes to gather your thoughts and get ready for the action.

It doesn't matter if you are playing in a craps or blackjack tournament, your goal is to do what it takes to get to the next round. Many tournament players have adopted the simple strategy of betting big in hopes of growing their bankroll quickly or busting out trying. While this may sound good, if it works you don't really want to bust out of a tournament on your first hand. It is usually better to bet the minimum for the first few hands while the other players are going for the quick score.

Making minimum bets to begin with will allow you to have sufficient chips to adjust your playing strategy as the round progresses. Blackjack and certain craps bets have a very low house edge over the long run.

However you need to remember that you are not playing against the house, you are playing against the other players in the tournament. You are also playing a very limited number of hands. Anything can and will happen in the short run. This is due to the luck factor, which you will encounter in a tournament. There will be some situations where you will have to play differently than you would normally play in a live game and hope that you get lucky.

This is not to say that the tournament will be won completely on luck, but a little luck will help you along. There are two types of blackjack tournaments. At one tournament you are competing against only the players at your table. The second type has you competing against all of the players at all of the other tables. The format where you compete against the players at your table is the most popular, especially where there are a limited number of blackjack tables available for a tournament and there has to be multiple qualifying rounds.

Although the specific rules may vary a little, this is the basic format for a tournament I recently played in. There were 72 entrants for the tournament. The casino had set up six tables to be used for the event. There were six players assigned to each table. The first set of 36 players took their seats at 9 a. Players were told that they had to keep their chips in stacks of the same denomination and visible for all the other players at the table to see.

This was done so you could determine how many chips your opponents had. The tournament round consisted of 30 hands of blackjack and at the end of that time the two players with the most chips at each table advanced to the semi-final round. In a standard game the dealer will deal the first card to the player at first base, but in a tournament it rotates every hand since all betting is done in order. Before we started the tournament, one card was dealt to each player and the player with the high card was designated as first base.

The deal then moved to the left with the player in the first spot making the first bet and each player making their bets after one another. This gives a little advantage to the person betting last as he can adjust his bets strategically.

I was in the second round and took my seat at the table. The dealer dealt for high card and I was third to act during the first hand. The player to my immediate left must have read about the win or bust strategy because he bet all of his chips on the first hand. He lost and we were down to five players after the first hand. I have a strategy that I use to try and increase my chips without risking it all on one bet.

I call it the "quarter strategy. If I win that bet I will parlay my winnings and try to win two bets in a row. If I win the second bet I have now doubled my starting bankroll and am usually in good position. If I were to lose the original bet I still have enough chips to try this play again. On this particular day I won the first bet. I was dealt an 8 and 3 for a double down situation.

I smiled as he was dealt a 10 and a 3 for I had 17 and the dealer was showing a six up. I was sure I had made it to the finals. But when it was this player's time to act he pushed his remaining chips in and told the dealer he wanted to double down on his He drew a 7 for The dealer turned over a 2 for eight and then drew a 10 for I don't know why he did not just bet all his chips ahead of me but apparently he realized his mistake and then got lucky with his double down.

Remember what I said about luck? The basic format for most craps tournaments and one that I played in after the Roll-a-thon is as follows.

At the time of registration everyone was assigned a time and a table. There were 12 players assigned to each table. To start the tournament the boxman rolled the dice and the number corresponded to a player at the table. That player got to roll the dice first. Every player was required to have a pass line or don't pass bet active on every roll. Other than that requirement, you were free to make any other bets you wanted to at the table. The tournament session lasted for 30 minutes.

At the end of that time, there were three more rolls and the players had to make their bets in order, starting with the player shooting the dice and moving to his left.

Once you made your bet you were not allowed to make any additional bets. There were also a few additional rules that the players were required to follow. You had to keep your chips visible in your rack at all times.

This was done so that other players could try to determine how much money each player had. If you were not making a bet you could not be holding any chips in your hand. One additional rule was that you could not talk to the other players or discuss strategy. In some ways, a craps tournament is a lot fairer than other tournaments because each player is betting on the exact same rolls of the dice. Therefore it is a player's betting strategy that determines if he is the winner.

Many of the players will be betting the high odds proposition bets in hopes of catching a big win. Includes places to see and things to pack! Top 10 things to do and see Grand Canyon West; 3. Where is the best burger? Craft Brews and Microbreweries Dining: How does it work? Downtown and Fremont Street- worth visiting? Listing updated August Leisure: Pools; Pool Parties; which hotel? Bars and lounges- 1. With a view; 2. High end to budget; Outlet Malls; Liquor stores Shows: When, where and how to buy tickets?

Monorail, trams, buses and shuttles Transportation: Uber and Lyft- including discount codes Transportation: Taxis-how much does it cost for a taxi from the airport to the Strip? Airport- International arrivals- how long is the arrival process? It was interesting to stay in comparable accommodations at both properties and compare them. I attended a slot tournament and was provided a Parlor Suite. Last fall, I stayed in a Salon Suite. I actually preferred the Parlor Suite. It is 1, sq ft compared to 1, sq ft for the Salon Suite.

The Parlor Suite just seemed more comfortable and livable to me. As DeRuyter Butler said in one of his Reponses to Hunter's questions about Wynn, "Probably the most innovative and new development of Wynn was the concept of a boutique hotel within a large hotel".

The separate Suite Tower, 'hotel within a hotel' makes for an ideal visit. I checked in at the Invited Guests room which is immediately to the right after walking into Suite Tower registration area. It is currently being enlarged by incorporating the space formerly occupied by Gizmos.

The registration desk will be moved to the rear of the space, and a lounge and refreshment area will be added at the entrance. I'm sorry to report some service glitches. I was given a Salon Suite last trip to make amends for a problem with my reservation.

When I checked in on Thursday, February 23 I had problems, too. I was told my reservation was for two nights, not three, and that I was not expected to arrive until the next day, Friday. When I explained that the slot tournament invitation was for three nights, and that my host had accurately made my reservation, the representative made a call, and I was assigned my Parlor Suite. It was disconcerting to have glitches on two consecutive trips.

Housekeeping slipped during my stay. These examples may be minor, but they should not have occurred in a first-rate property: Turn-down service was provided only the first evening but not the next two. I finished the box of Kleenex in the bathroom the first night. It was not replaced by Housekeeping the next morning, and because no one returned for turn-down service the second evening, it was not replaced then.

Unlike other hotels, there was not an extra box in the room, I opened a bar of bath soap the first day, and the box was never replaced. By the time I checked out after three nights, the bar was a sliver. A replacement bar should have been left the first day. The powder room sink drain was clogged. I called the first day, and either no one came up, or they didn't fix it, because it still didn't drain properly when I checked out. I ordered Room Service one evening, and delivery of soup and a sandwich took one hour.

I will say the server apologized for the delay as soon as I opened the door. I heard a knock at the door my last evening at 7: It was the mini-bar inspector. These kinds of services should be done during the day, not at night when the room is occupied.

Overall, I still enjoy Wynn, and it continues to be my property of choice. I hope they don't become complacent about providing superior service. The slot tournament was run very efficiently, and everyone did a great job.

The ballroom was set up for breakfast, lunch and bar service the day of tournament play. That's when the fun began! I was assigned a Bellagio Suite on the 31st floor and was given the room number and keys.

However, I checked my bags because the room hadn't been cleaned yet. That was fine with me. I stopped back at I went up, unpacked my bags, hung things in the closet, washed up and then connected my laptop.

As I was in the bedroom checking my email, I heard two women's voices. They jumped as I walked out of the bedroom, and asked what I was doing in their room. They were also assigned the same room with the same key code. So much for key security!

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