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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

Vegas 2.3

Fancy bath facilites they've got here. Eventually made my way down to the conference for some lunch, then set off on a quest: It seems, however incorrectly, that when you play at a casino you gain a little and then lose it all. So...what if you gain a little and then book it on down to the next one and repeat? Can you stay ahead? I already had a few black chips for the Wynn, so I sat down to some blackjack - pretty good dealer (Jennifer), but once 300 or so began dropping and hit 200, I took double my money and cashed out.

Took a walk on down the strip - I was at the Venetian last night and may be again on Wednesday, so I skipped over to Harrah's, where high school acquaintance Jamie Newberry may still be an employee. Wandered a bit and then got a blackjack game with auto-shuffler (Side note: your Vegas blackjack seems to come in a couple of flavors - single deck blackjack, where awareness of what cards have been played is more valuable, and the blackjacks pay 6:5 instead of 3:2 (not good); auto-shuffle, where every few hands the cards from eight decks are fed back into the machine which may or may not split them up effectively; and six-deck shoe, which is shuffled by the dealer right in front of you once 80% or so of the total cards have been played. The last is my favorite.) Rey started me off and then Billy took over. Billy's a loudmouth. Loves to sing and shout and yell and make the best of what can probably be a lousy job. I much prefer a dealer like Billy to the dealers who stare at you and never utter a word. I got up to around $150, down to $25, bounced around for a while and stopped at even money. I also got two pairs of dice, because I didn't want beads and you get one or the other when you get a suited blackjack. I then placed a couple of craps bets, and after a bit of bouncing around there, left $3 ahead.

Further travel up the strip, dropped in on the Casino Royale, which had been recommended by someone at the convention as a location for cheap craps. Wandered around, looked for a slot game I might like...everything inside was way too depressing, and the table games I liked were packed to bursting because they were so cheap. Left without making a single wager.

Next stop, since I accidentally walked past the Bally's entrance, the Paris. I wanted to visit here for 'old times' sake,' since this was where Sony put me up in '05. Hopped on a craps table, and bled away most of a hundred bucks. I even quit in the middle of shooting since I cost myself too much money. I've seen people rake in fortunes on this game, and I get the basics of it, read the odds, etc...just haven't the luck - can't win anything. So I found myself another blackjack game (6-deck manual shoe), had a seat just before a reshuffle. Myrna was my dealer. She was really good - talkative / teasing the players, dealing double down cards face down, offering tips, and making a point to be really rooting for the players. I got into a system of betting one extra dollar on each bet, and if it paid off, that dollar would become a bet for the dealer and the payout dollar was put on my next bet. As long as I was on a streak, I was tipping a buck a hand. Sometimes even when I was losing, because Myrna was pretty good. Jessica replaced her and was not at all as excellent, but I stuck around and eked out some winnings until Myrna came back. At one point I did have to throw down some more cash in order to cover a double down bet. When $700 dropped down to $600, I called it quits there.

Now it was late enough that I started working my way back to home base to meet up for dinner. For me there's a dual feeling of wanting to win some more and not wanting to give up what I've landed. I'm probably approaching the spot I got after two days or so last time, where I'm getting tired of the gambling. Nonetheless, I ducked into Caesar's Palace for a bit, being on the other side of the street as I was. I fed a 20 to a slot machine, uselessly. I pulled out another $40 and tried some craps. Not a very lively table. A fella named Marvin arrived on the scene with some serious cash. He was throwing $5k bundles of cash onto the table and making enormous bets - pretty much wagering on every bet on the table. Amazing that he was still losing. I think he lost the first of two bundles that I personally saw hit the table before I was done with my first $20. I walked away with $18 of the $40. The blackjack tables were 25-dollar minimums. So: over to a (different) craps table, place a bet seconds before the dice fly, it wins and pays out $32, I have $50 and hit the blackjack table. Another decent dealer, Suzie, who I was warned played strong game, but wasn't as memorable as the players. One was on about how glad he was that me and the other fella knew how to play, because it really messes up the game when someone doesn't know how to play their hand, splits 10s, etc. Again, running my side-bet system for the dealer. Dropped another $40 on the table to cover a double down bet. (total buy-in: $100) But our dealer switched out and took the good cards with him. four hands in a row Johnny gave me 12 and then a 10, and each time I still would have lost if I hadn't hit. Having again doubled my money, I cashed out. As I was leaving, Marvin was still losing hand over fist.

Back to the Wynn, changed clothes and taxied to Mandalay Bay for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Not like you might think of a Chinese restaurant though. Dishes were more exotic and served 'family style.' Shrimp cakes, beef dumplings, shortrib meat, lobster mashed potatoes, duck fried rice, drunken chicken, szechwan beef with crispy potato shreds, butterfish, and a mix of dessert items. Each person gets just a bit of everything. Three for three now on delicious and really expensive meals.

Our party split up after dinner. IT guys and our guest from EFI went back to the Wynn, perhaps to bed or to drinks or to something. My dad and I to Treasure Island. He played three-card poker and then later some blackjack, came out one or two hundred dollars up. I started with some craps, again just lose lose losin'. Then found myself a manual shuffle game of blackjack - Pam from Alabama dealt to me and several gents who didn't speak english - when she swapped out with a tight-lipped grinder of a dealer, I left the table. I like a good chatty game. Got in on a $5/hand game with an autoshuffler and a couple of drunks. Had fun egging the drunken accountants on, as they warned me about how bad the two dealers working our table were - Adam from Korea and Ray from Vegas. Both the quiet sort, and Adam seemed irritated whenever I got my tipping game working because it meant he had to say thanks every time he won the $2. Dealers like that are a real drag, but our table had a lot of camaraderie going, which makes for the best games. The happy drunks eventually became quiet drunks and left. Again I dropped more money on the table to cover a double down bet. The Norwegian almost lost and then got way ahead, back and forth. He and I seemed to really prosper when the table had fewer players. Other players came and left. Some girl that I actually rooted against, maybe because she was throwing off our good rhythm or because she didn't know how to play, another foreigner who hit and stayed at odd whims, an older couple and a younger couple, a couple more of these stormed off because 'he can't play when his friends sit next to him,' one of whom got a pair of 8s. He was ready to stay and we convinced him to split. 8 and 3, doubled to 18, and another pair of 8s, split again he got 18 and another pair of 8s, split again to make two more 18s. He got paid on all four hands and was camping pretty happily. For the first time, perhaps because he was drunk, someone took my kidding-on-the-square advice and did tip the other players for convincing him to make all the money. The Norwegian and I pooled our tips to play another position in one hand, and lost it, but we thought that would be fun, and I didn't really want to tip these somewhat lousy dealers $5 in one hand. Another dude and his girl showed up and I was really cleaning up while they played. The Norwegian finally bowed out. When the couple left, I tried to play multiple hands in order to keep the flow going, but I was by myself and Adam really got into grinder mode. It's odd how attitude can seem like it's affecting the game. He got a string of blackjacks and quickly separated me from almost a hundred bucks. I split with $400 and went back to the Wynn.

Looked around for games under $100/hand to keep the night going, but to no avail. Tried two slot machines that paid off on previous days, which might be an inherently bad idea, since neither produced enough for me to start on one of those table games from a $20.

It really pays (so to speak) to learn the rules of what to do in Blackjack. A lot of people I played with today commented on how I was doing when really the best thing to do is to take emotion and bogus "feelings" out of it and break the game down into a set of rules. I don't think I realised how many folks wear themselves out on senseless judgement calls.

So that's Wynn +100, Harrah's +3., Paris +400, Caesar's +100, TI +200, Wynn -40 Daily total +763 Week total:+283

(came back to my room and fell asleep writing this, and now it's dawn in our big picture window)