Georgia. Two members of the Georgia state legislature are pushing to bring casino-type gambling to the Peach State. But, the pair says that it will make the push only if there is a guarantee that okaying gambling would bring what are called “mega-sized” destination resorts to Georgia. According to state records, Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and State Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah (both Republicans) have introduced bills in both houses. The bills require the casinos to pay 20% of gambling revenues to the state to help pay for scholarships. The criteria would be that the scholarships would go to the most needy students.
Nebraska. Local media in Nebraska report that a group of American Indians, the HO-Chunk Tribe, is suing a company it had hired to help push for a ballot measure to legalize gambling in that state. Northstar Campaign Systems failed to carry out a successful drive to obtain enough signatures to get a proposal before voters that would have legalized casino gaming through horse racing facilities. Ho-Chunk Inc., the business arm of the tribe, says that the pollsters didn’t get enough verifiable signatures.
South Florida. Dade County media have reported that South Florida may see the rules for casinos changed under a bill being proposed in the Florida Senate. According to reports, if new legislation goes into effect, South Florida could have two new casinos, the seven racetrack casinos already there would get blackjack, and the Seminole casinos would get craps and roulette. In Florida, eight counties have voted to allow slots; with this, the state would receive billions of dollars at a time when state economists are predicting $3-billion in budget shortfalls over the next three years. Although some in the state capital may welcome the infusion of money, many in the Florida House are opposed to the expansion of gaming in that state.
Canada. At the current time, there are more than 100 operational casinos in Canada. There are, though, three provinces where you won’t see gaming: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and also Newfoundland and Labrador. The size and offerings of the facilities vary widely. Two of the country’s most elaborate are in Quebec. They are the Manoir Richelieu and the Mont-Tremblant. Both are described by published reports as being in “picturesque parts of the country.” They seem to lure visitors for much more than the prospect of winning money. Several casinos in Canada rival what might be seen in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. These include the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, the Montreal Casino and Caesars in Windsor, Ontario. The current exchange rate is bringing many to these facilities.
What better source for solid information on how to improve your chances of winning a blackjack tournament than from someone who has won more of them than probably anyone else: Ken Smith. I interviewed Smith to get some tips, here’s what he had to say.
What are the common mistakes you see novice players make in tournaments?
Many beginners are too aggressive early in a tournament round, but too timid late in the round. They’ll often play the entire round with medium-sized bets. These bets are large enough to be risky, but not large enough to pose a real threat to their opponents at the end. You can start with small bets and hope that the dealer wipes out your opponents, but be ready to switch gears and bet aggressively if that doesn’t happen.
Is it better to make a big bet early in the round to get a lead or lay low and wait until the end of the round to catch up?
In an elimination format (where table winners advance to play other table winners), early big bets don’t have as much value as you might think. If you lose those big bets, you’ll be out early, but if you win them, that’s no guarantee that you’ll advance. When the whole table starts chasing you, usually at least one of them will catch up. One reliable approach is to be among the smallest bets at the table over the first third of the round, and then adjust to your situation. If it appears you’ll need a big chip stack to advance (and that’s usually the case), start making your larger catch-up bets with about a third of the round to go. If you wait too long, your big bets will just be mirroring everyone else’s big bets and that makes it tough to catch up.
If you start to fall behind, when is the best time to increase your bets?
Make your move before the whole table starts heating up. It’s easiest to make up ground when you’re the only player making large bets. Once you’re pretty sure that your current chip count won’t be enough to advance go ahead and play for the lead. If you postpone that decision until the last two or three hands, you will almost certainly find that the whole table is betting big, and your job is much tougher.
If you have the lead should you bet small and let everyone try to catch you?
Unless your lead is at least a max bet, that is a mistake. Remember that your outcome and your opponent’s outcome will usually be the same. Most of the time, you’ll both win or you’ll both lose. If your opponents are betting big to catch you, your best play is to bet big along with them. Protect your lead.
The last hand in the round often determines who advances and who doesn’t. Can you give some general guidelines on how best to play and bet on the last hand?
If you have the benefit of late betting position on the last hand, you often have a good chance to advance even if you are not the current chip leader. As the bets are placed around the table, try to make a big enough bet to take the lead if you get paid, or alternatively, make a small bet to have more un-bet chips if the dealer beats everyone. The more opponents that you have, the more you should prefer the large bet choice. If you’re not sure what to bet, just make a max bet. That’s almost always a reasonable choice.
If you are forced to bet big while the chip leaders also bet big, be prepared to double or split more aggressively than usual. If you stick with a single bet, make sure that you don’t stand on a hand total lower than theirs, or you’ll be locked out.
Note: Ken Smith has written two eBooks that contain his outstanding winning playing strategies for blackjack tournaments. You can read a few sample pages from his books by going to www.bjinsider.com and click on the cover of his eBook at the top of the home page.
Henry Tamburin is the editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com), Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack Course (www.goldentouchblackjack.com), and host of www.smartgaming.com. For a FREE three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to www.bjinsider.com/freetrial.com. To receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit www.smartgaming.com.
Luck Lotto News From Homeless to Homeward Bound
A Change of Fortune
A homeless man living in Colorado recently had a change of fortune when he won $50,000 in the state’s lottery. Colorado Lottery officials say Adam H. won the jackpot from the $3 Poker Celebration game. He’ll receive $35,500 after taxes. Colorado state law allows lottery winners to be identified by first name and last initial to provide partial protection of winners’ identities. Adam H. was living at the Denver Rescue Mission when he bought the Poker Celebration scratch-off ticket. He said he was going to use the prize money to move back to his native Kentucky to be closer to his daughter.
Major Scratch Win
James and Sylvia Silverence of Poughkeepsie, NY, are the winners of the New York Lottery’s largest-ever scratch-off prize, after playing the “$10,000,000 Cash” game. James bought the winning ticket, which cost $30, at a convenience store where he had gone to collect $125 in winnings from a different game. “The lady ahead of me had purchased four of the $10,000,000 Cash tickets and didn’t win,” he said. “There were six tickets left, so I put in some extra money and got them all.” The Silvernences are splitting the jackpot, with each receiving $3,309,000 after withholdings. The parents of four boys said they do not plan to make major changes in their lives and will use the money to pay college expenses for their sons and buy a new truck for James and a few diamonds for Sylvia.
Waiting for Payouts
If you win a California Lottery scratchers prize of $600 or more, you’ll now have to wait even longer to get that money. The California Lottery says the reason is simple: they can’t keep up with all the recent winnings. Winners used to receive their payouts in less than six weeks. But due the high volume of recent winners, the estimated time now is up to 14 weeks. Scratcher winnings of $599 or less can still be redeemed in stores, while $600-plus prizes require people to fill out a form that starts the claims process. The surge in winnings of $600 or more has a little to do with luck, but is also part of the lottery’s strategy. Lotto has increased the number of higher price-point scratcher games that have a higher number of winners. The state is now working on a plan to speed up payouts on claims between $600 and $1,000, which represent a large number of winners.
An Idaho Senate panel has killed legislation that would have allowed lottery winners to hide their identities. The State Affairs Committee voted 8-1 to halt the measure that would have kept the names of individuals who win $600 or more secret. While the bill would have allowed winners to give written authorization to the lottery to publicize their names, the proposal also prevented those names from being released under public records requests for six months after the prize is claimed. Lawmakers said the change was necessary to protect the privacy of winners. Currently, just a handful of states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.