Jeff Ma Interview

Jeff Ma wrote the awesome book Bringing Down The House with Ben Mezrich.  Looking at him, you may remember his cameo in 21. Besides being a card counter for the MIT blackjack team Jeff has also been a part of fantasy sports (he used to appear on the MLB fantasy podcast) and got into sports in general.

This interview, from tech crunch, touches on his new book in addition to blackjack, sports and movies.  It’s a nice view/listen.  Enjoy.

Buy Bringing Down The House

Buy 21

6-5 Blackjack is “Great” For Tourists!?

I don’t know how this one slipped past me until today, but the headline says it all.

..6-5 games are “great” for tourists..

The exact quote is “The 6-5 games are “great” for tourists getting a feel for blackjack, Rubin says.”  Rubin is “Max Rubin, a casino consultant and gambling book author.”  It’s this attitude that angers people that pay attention to pay tables and such.

There is lots of great fodder in the article for me to spew anger at, but even in context there’s no way anyone can justify that 6/5 blackjack is better for the player than 3/2.

Like all casino games you just look for the slowest bleed and odds to maybe win a little.  6/5 blackjack speeds up the losses.  Animal psyche will run away if it endures too much pain too quickly.  Less people gambling less lead to $1 billion less in blackjack take for the Vegas casinos.

Time for the casinos to slow do the lust for money and get consultants that don’t look down on their core consumers.

This morning Vegas Tripping has an article that touches on a similar topic.  As usual, a good read on VT.

World Series of Poker Registration Up At Least 20%

Registration isn’t over for all events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) yet, but the total number of entries is already 20% more than last year.

Official statistics from the 41st World Series of Poker currently running at the Rio in Las Vegas indicate that through the first 56 events, there have been 65,647 entries, surpassing last year’s total entries including the main event of 60,875. And this year’s main event registration numbers have yet to be recorded!

I thought interest in casino poker might be slowing last year with the 8% drop in TV ratings.  Maybe, I was wrong.  It can happen.  Maybe people still have dreams of a dollar and a chip.

Seven Stars Insider – July

Here’s the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider.  This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Harrah’s players.  Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.  There is lots of information in this edition, so read on for all the goods.

Seven Stars Insider – July 2010

NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars members, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Harrah’s property.  Please feel free to pass this on to your friends.  Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online at  You will need Adobe Acrobat to view them, but this is a free program available at

Fall Signature Event

The fall Signature Event has been confirmed for September 10-12 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.  September 10, however, is the last day of Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, and many players are not happy about the scheduling.

Harrah’s Plans Las Vegas Retail, Entertainment Complex

Harrah’s Entertainment plans to develop a retail and entertainment center in a short thoroughfare that runs from the Las Vegas Strip to Audrie Street, between the Flamingo and O’Sheas.  “Project Linq” will include 20 restaurants and bars, and 20 individual retailers along a promenade that leads to a 550-foot observation wheel in the back of the property.  Construction is expected to begin next year.  Here’s a link to a Las Vegas Review-Journal article which appeared July 1.

Cashback Back – Sort Of

It’s now official.  No need to look in your mailbox for those Reel Rewards coupons that replaced the actual cash cashback from Atlantic City casinos.  While you still won’t get cold hard cash, you now will be able to retrieve a coupon through the kiosks.  Simply print the voucher – minimum $5, in increments of $5 – and take it to the cashier.  In the future, the only thing you’ll get in the mail is a postcard telling you how much you’ve earned, and you’ll probably receive at least one last Reel Rewards coupon in the mail for all cashback earned prior to the conversion.  If you have any cashback balances prior to April 6, you can still get the cash up until July 15.  After that, you won’t get the cash, just Reel Rewards coupons available through the kiosks.  All existing cashback offers that were sent through the mail as Reel Rewards coupons will continue to be valid through their expiration date.  Finally, don’t cash out more coupons than you can use during your visit because they expire sometimes within a day or two after you receive them.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I received a survey from Harrah’s asking my thoughts on the “new” – now “old” – cashback program the day after the revised program was announced.  Some department wasted a lot of money, and a lot of our time, by polling us after the decision was made.

Continue reading “Seven Stars Insider – July”

New Blackjack Basic Strategy Calculator

Wizard of Odds just added a new blackjack basic strategy calculator.  You can create your own blackjack strategy cards based on the following variables:

  • Number of Decks
  • Hit on Soft 17
  • Double After Split
  • Surrender
  • Dealer Peek

The number of decks only goes up to 4+, so I’m not sure if this calculator is perfect, but it’s a nice resource to use as reference and more accurate than generic cards.

Did Charles Barkley Lose $100K Gambling For A Few Hours?

Greenbrier Resort opened this past weekend in West Virginia and they threw a star-studded party where they paid some famous people up to $100,000 just to show up.

A mix of sports icons and entertainment stars — Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Jessica Simpson, Brooke Shields, Lionel Richie, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Jane Seymour, Debbie Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus — showed up Friday night at the luxury resort in West Virginia.

Celebrities seems to matter to some people.  I’ve met enough to be not be phased by their stardom.  Anyway, one of the celebrities in attendance enjoyed the casino a little too much.

The only real player of the night was Barkley. “Blackjack, roulette, craps — I play it all.” We spotted the basketball great in the high-roller section a little after 11 p.m., sitting next to (Jim) Justice and Shields at a blackjack table with a rack of $50,000 in $500 chips in front of him.

Justice was casually tossing $100 chips in front of Shields. “I can’t play,” he said. “All I can do is help.” He left shortly after, but Barkley wagered until about 2 a.m., rumored to have lost all the money — if it was even his, or part of his appearance fee. Whatever.

Charles Barkley likes to gamble and has never hid that fact.  I actually saw him playing a few years ago at Venetian.  He’s probably the most famous person I’ve seen on the floor gambling with the “common folk.”

What he chooses to do with his money is his call.  I always like to think that the money someone else is playing is their equivalent to mine.  So if someone is gambling a $100 chip I like to think that it’s their equivalent to my $10/$25 chip.  Truthfully, I don’t care what how much other people gamble.  It’s not my business. Enjoy yourself, Chuck.

Ads on Slot Machines

The time has come for advertisers to find another way into your head.  It was only a matter of time before idle slot and video poker machines at your favorite casino had ads running.

Enter Reel-TV, a Henderson company that has patented technology enabling television ads and other marketing messages to appear on slot machine video screens while not in use. Last month, frosty bottles of Bud Light began materializing on video poker screens inside the main entrance of the Palms, like hallucinations induced by the desert heat.

Over the past few years advertisements have popped up in almost every free space marketers can find.  No area is sacred anymore.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Like TV’s in supermarket lines, I expect to see this spread rapidly, so get ready for ads and casino promos everywhere you look in a casino.

Photo: Brandweek

NBA Draft Prop Bets

I was checking the 2010 NBA Draft Prop bets last night and found some interesting opportunities and figured I’d share them.  I love the NBA draft because it’s right after the end of the season and followed closely by free agency.  This is the time where the losing teams get ready to turn things around for next year.  I find building the team as much fun as playing the season.

Odds are from sportsbook,com.  click any prop to get to sportsbook.

2010 NBA Draft – Derrick Favors – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
Nets -200
Any Other Team +150

2010 NBA Draft – Wesley Johnson – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
Twolves -130
Any Other Team -110

2010 NBA Draft – John Wall – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
Wizards -1000
Any Other Team +550

2010 NBA Draft – Evan Turner – He will play his first NBA Regular Season Game for
76ers -300
Any Other Team +200

Wesley Johnson – Over/Under Draft Position
Draft Position
Over 4.5 (+140)
Draft Position
Under 4.5 (-190)

DeMarcus Cousins – Over/Under Draft Position
Draft Position
Over 4.5 (-180)
Draft Position
Under 4.5 (+130)

Continue reading “NBA Draft Prop Bets”

Why Aren’t There Any $5 Tables?

Why aren’t there any (or many) $5 blackjack tables at the casino?  That’s a common question I see on the message boards that I read.  Common sense always lead me to believe there weren’t many $5 table because the casinos don’t make much money on them.  I found some proof of this and thought I’d share.

The chart shows that a full $5 blackjack table only earns the casino about $42 an hour where a $25 table with only two people earns about twice and much.

I didn’t know the math, but this makes sense to me.  Next time you walk though a casino and you see all of those almost empty $25 tables you know why they are there.

World Cup Odds

I present you with odds to win the FIFA World Cup that begins this week.  I know less about national teams than I do about the specific leagues, which isn’t much.  Because of my lack of knowledge here I would stick with the favorites, but that’s no fun.

The USA at 80-1 could be fun, but no team from this side of the world has ever won the World Cup so I don’t see that as a reality.  Here are the odds from all based on a moneyline of 100.  For example Argentina is 6.5-1.

Algeria +75000
Argentina +650
Australia +17500
Brazil +450
Cameroon +12500
Chile +8000
Denmark +12500
England +700
France +2000
Germany +1200
Ghana +12500
Greece +25000
Holland +900
Honduras +100000
Italy +1600
Ivory Coast +5000
Japan +60000
Mexico +8000
New Zealand +250000
Nigeria +15000
North Korea +200000
Paraguay +10000
Portugal +2800
Serbia +5000
Slovakia +40000
Slovenia +50000
South Africa +15000
South Korea +30000
Spain +375
Switzerland +30000
USA +8000
Uruguay +12500