August 2008
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Day 21: Tripling down

The best thing I heard all day was a trainee cashier at Texas Station being told:

"Now these black chips, they’re worth a hundred".

Indeed, I had black chips. Plural. Apparently nobody else had had black chips. And I’d only come in to play two hands of blackjack.

One of the supplements in the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago was the MyStation magazine from Station Casinos, and this contained one $25 matchplay coupon for each of their casinos. In fact, Boulder Station offered two $25 matchplays – each one valid for half the month.

Seven casinos and eight coupons makes $200 in total matched bets. That’s a lot of free money to get inside a $2.50 newspaper, before you even take into account the other seven coupons for each casino for points multipliers, buffet discounts, free games of bowling and the like.

You can understand why it was worth the effort to hunt down and capture a second copy once we’d realised this, so that Claire and I could go on a romantic bonus whoring cruise together.

Unfortunately this was when we were staying on the Strip at Flamingo, and thanks to Harrah’s "cost cutting" decision to no longer sell a newspaper that exposed their cost cutting building practices neither that casino nor any of the adjacent ones were prepared to give me the good stuff.

I also couldn’t find a shop common enough to sell a newspaper in Bellagio, but eventually got one in the Mirage. A lot of late night walking for sure, but I wasn’t going to pass this one up.

So we both sat down at a new table at Texas Station and played the coupon with a green chip. I’d lose $25 or win $50.

Claire stood on 20 and I was dealt a 9 and a 2 with the dealer showing a 7. I reached for my wallet and pulled out another $25 to double down.

"You can double for $50 if you like", said the dealer.

This has never happened before, and I’ve never even thought to ask. Why would they let you make a double down on money that isn’t yours? It’s effectively a triple-down!

I didn’t need asking twice, whipped out the $50 and watched the dealer turn over a ten for a total of 17.

I needed a big card – a 6 to push or 7, 8, 9, 10 or face card to win – more half the deck in my favour, but far from a certainty and the dealer did a great job of keeping the tension by peekng at my face-down card, making a sad face and saying "aw, six".

Then she flipped up an 8 for the win and the crowd went wild.

Claire’s $25 bet won $50 with the coupon and my original $25 bet was tripled to $75, paid at even money plus an additional $25 for the matchplay. $150 profit, thank you very much.

Clearly if doubling down on a hand is a good play, tripling down is even better. Just how much better, I didn’t really know at the time.

According to the Wizard of Odds, the expected value of doubling down on eleven against a dealer seven is about $0.46 per $1 of the original bet. He doesn’t show his working, only a table of numbers, so I’m going to assume that tripling down has the effect of adding another 50% to that value, making it an additional $0.23 per $1 of the bet. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So for a $25 bet, and forgetting about the coupon, being able to triple down made me a theoretical $5.75.

I was fairly certain this was a dealer mistake, and I tipped $5 because of it which made it much less valuable, but of course it meant in future whenever I had to double down on a matchplay I was going to ask about this, just in case.

At Palace Station my $25 coupon was uneventful but I had another $5 coupon with a double down, but the dealer said I could only play another $5. Similarly at Tropicana, where I had a $15 payoff for $10 bet coupon (apparently you can pick up one of these every day) I pulled out a $20 to double down but the dealer gave me $10 back in change.

However at Suncoast, another $5 matchplay, I asked if it was $5 or $10 to double down and the dealer checked the table sign, said "it’s single deck, so you can double for $10".

I don’t understand why a single deck makes the difference (nor do I understand why he had to look at the sign to know how many decks he was dealing) but now I know that it’s always worth asking, just in case you can find a dealer that allows it!

3 comments to Day 21: Tripling down

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