January 2007
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Blackjack Maaaaadness

Took full advantage of two new player signup offers at Sahara on by way back tonight after crashing out of the Venetian’s tournament.  It was all going swimmingly until my JJ was cracked by an over-excited 66 who wasn’t quite as short-stacked as he thought he was.  I never fully recovered.  I did discover somewhere to get a very nice pastrami sandwich to go from the Grand Canal Shoppes though, which was not quite messy enough for me to end up with mayonaise all over the cards.  I’d walked to the Venetian, taking photos on the way including some very sad shots of the Stardust which has been having its windows ripped out from the top downwards since I got here.  They’re nearly done now, so it won’t be long before it goes kerblammo.

The first offer at the Sahara was a totally free $10 slot play, which was mine for the taking as Sahara had wiped my account from their system.  It’s probably been 5 years since I played there with a slot card so I’m not really surprised.  I turned the $10 in machine credit into $10 in real money in 8 spins of video poker.  Mission accomplished!  They still have some machines that pay out in coin, which used to be an inconvenience but now they’ve made virtually everything ticket-in-ticket-out I do miss not getting my hands filthy and having to carry round buckets of quarters.

The other offer was a promo chip deal, where $40 gets you $50 in $5 chips.  You can’t cash the chips in, they have to be wagered – and lost, because when you win you get the winnings as a regular chip but the stake remains in play as a promo chip.  Not sure what this is worth, but it’s definitely worth doing.  I had a similar deal at the Hilton before but I think it’s only for hotel guests there.

If I’d played like I normally would, increasing my bet with each win, I’d have made a killing.  As I’d decided to only make the same bet each hand though, in order to clear the bonus, I only finished up with $90.  There was a long streak where I just couldn’t lose, and when I tipped the dealer the other players looked puzzled and I had to explain what the other chip was for.  Still, free money is never something to be sneezed at.

I’d already noticed that I was the only one there who knew what was going on though.  There’s a reason the Sahara can still make money from $3 tables!  Never mind the odd rookie mistake like standing on a 16 when the dealer shows a big card.  One hand when the dealer showed a 3, the lady to my right hit her 13 and bust; the chap to my left split his pair of kings and ended up with a 15 and a 16.  The guy on third base had a blackjack, but I half expected him to hit it anyway.  The next hand he hit on a 13, drew an ace and then decided that 14 was enough.

The dealer wasn’t much better.  I doubled on a soft 18 against her 5 (turns out this is actually wrong, but there can’t be much in it; with 6 decks you double soft 17 against 2 to 6, but soft 17 against a 6 only) and I was given a 9, and next thing I know I see two red chips flying my way after she hits to 17.  By the time I’d figured out that there was no way I could have possibly won that hand, only pushed at best, everyone had moved on.  I don’t think I was the only lucky one!

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