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Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

Frontier Hotel 1942-2007

"This is the end result of all the bright lights... and the comp trips, of all the champagne... and free hotel suites,
and all the broads and all the booze. It's all been arranged just for us to get your money.
That's the truth about Las Vegas. We're the only winners. The players don't stand a chance. "

-- Sam "Ace" Rothstein, Casino, 1995

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Incident Report -- Backed off at the Mirage

About two months ago the hammer came down on us at the Mirage and we were backed off from playing blackjack there.  In all honesty we kind of brought it up on ourselves.  We had hit the joint just the day before and made about a $2000 withdrawal in about an hour.  There was no heat from the floor but obviously the "eye" captured everything.  It just seemed so easy and since there no heat from the floor we thought we would could do another hit and run on them.  I guess the Mirage is tired of being picked on, because they had no tolerance for us on the second go round.

We are at a DD $25 table.  The Mirage has a pretty good game there with good deck penetration.  If an AP is not greedy and has good cover, the place is very exploitable for a seasoned AP with a bankroll.  It's one of those place you have to hit fast and hard and get out -- and don't come back for awhile.  Obviously, we did not follow those words.

We sit down and start playing.  Right away the deck goes positive and we start pounding hard.  Our bet spreads our $50 up to $300 and everything in between.  There's no heat whatsoever -- the PB's are barely paying attention.  Now in most places these types of bet spread will warrant some notice from the PB -- but at the Mirage on this day it felt like we had the green light on them to make another sizable withdrawal.  Obviously we were very wrong.

We are about 15 minutes into our session with our noses wide open when a "guido" looking guy in his 40's wearing a dark suit comes over to talk to us.  He clearly was not in a good mood and was annoyed at even having to deal with us.  His speech was short and simple:  Gentleman, we have made a decision.  You are no longer allowed to play blackjack at the Mirage."  He then walked away.  Game over.  Time to collect our chips and cash out.

In retrospect we probably deserved this tossing.  Just being too greedy as an AP usually leads to problems.  We should have never gone back there the second time in such a short time period.  While I don't think our bet spreads were any threat to the casino bottom line, I do think this back off was more of a "disrespect" back off -- meaning that you picked on us before, we know what you were up to, and that's not going to happen again.

I do find it amazing how a place like the Mirage views card counters as such a threat.  That place takes huge action everyday in all of kinds of table games, including blackjack.  For them to run us out of there because we had a 6x bet spread from $50-$300 is amusing.  One would think that the "small" players such as ourselves could fly below the radar in the joint.  Apparently skilled blackjack players are not welcome, especially ones who vary their bets.

We are probably done at the Mirage for awhile -- at least 6 months.  But we will return as we always do.  As long as they offer a good blackjack game like that $25 DD, we know we just can't stay away forever.


  1. Pardon my ignorance on this "advantage play" stuff, but I've always felt the BJ margins were slim and even with card counting it was still quite possible for the casino to still win.
    So unless its very gauche of me to even inquire, what sort of money were you really hitting them for? Your losing a 50 dollar bet and winning a 300 bet may not thrill them, but usually they would love to have someone come in an put three blacks in that circle.

  2. You guys shouldn't have been so greedy!
    The Surveillance crew is very well seasoned there, and from what I've heard they have great facial recognition & are constantly watching the DD games for AP's like you & pal. They let you slide the first time.
    Craig Rum__

  3. @FleaStiff:
    Our bet spreads were $50-$300. Nothing more, nothing less. It is what it is.

    The whole essence of AP is to bet big when the deck is positive and bet small when the deck is negative. It's the combination of the big bet with the positive deck that triggers heat. Conversely, the small bet when the deck is negative also attracts attention

  4. @Craig Rum__

    I agree with your comment. We have been doing hit and runs there for the past two years with little heat. One hour max and then bail. We don't come back for at least 3 months if not 6 months. I admit we got greedy and tried a back to back on them and paid the price.

  5. I thought all card counters played in teams and had a flighty "BigBettor" whom they signaled when the count was high and who made the bets for them as they continued to just sit there grinding away with fairly small bets.

    Is team play more noticeable than jacking up the betting level? Perhaps those table hopping BigBettors are more noticeable.

    Is a 300 bet at plus 0.5 really all that more advantageous than grinding out a minus 0.46 house edge? Why don't you just vary from one green to two greens but not get barred?

  6. @flea:

    We do not use team play nor do we use a "big player." We just sit down at a table and pound them for an hour or so, then leave. It's pretty straight foward. We do use some cover -- which I am not going to discuss for obvious reasons.

    As for your question(s) about the math, expectation, varience, etc., with card counting, I would refer to the following two books:

    Blackjack for Blood -- Bryce Carlson
    Theory of Blackjack -- Peter Griffin