Maryland. Regulators in Maryland credit the opening of the new MGM National Harbor facility for a sudden upsurge in gaming in that state. According to published reports, Maryland’s six casinos combined for a record-setting month, just as last year ended, generating nearly $134-million in statewide gaming revenue. The numbers, largely because of the swank new MGM facility, were up $30-million from the same period the year before. December surpassed the previous revenue record, set in May, when five casinos totaled $104,351,219 million. The facility is located just off Washington, DC’s beltway, in Maryland, near Alexandria, VA. Its exteriors were designed to match much of the nation’s capital’s classic architecture.
Indiana. State regulators in Indiana say that the state’s widely scattered gaming facilities are keeping abreast of national trends. Back in 1851, Indiana banned lotteries. According to reports, that ban was interpreted to also mean a prohibition about gaming in general. All that changed in 1988, when voters in Indiana approved a state constitutional amendment that lifted the old ban. Indiana currently has nine large casinos that are categorized as “riverboat” facilities. All are either “anchored” on the Ohio River, in the southern part of the state, or on Lake Michigan, in the north.
South Florida. There are reports that some Florida legislators are moving slowly closer to re-doing a multi-million dollar gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. The compact would allow the owners of parimutuels that are losing money to sell their use permits to others who want to opt for more lucrative slot machines. These slots could be placed in new facilities that might be out of the immediate area in South Florida. One of the most vocal proponents of the concept represents a state district near Bradenton. That city is on Florida’s Gulf Coast, a four-hour drive from Miami.
United Kingdom. Despite the image of Bingo in the States as being a game for the elderly, in the United Kingdom, Bingo is attracting a much-younger crowd and is thriving. In that country, Bingo cards look much different than those used in the U.S. In America there are 75 Bingo numbers, played on one grid. In the UK, the numbers go up to 90 and the cards are more complicated.
Blackjack is the most popular table game amongst casino players. The reasons are you can: reduce the casino’s edge significantly from 2-5% to about 0.5% by learning the basic playing strategy and playing with a player-friendly mix of rules; often play a break-even game (or have a slight monetary edge) by utilizing the basic playing strategy and then asking and getting casino comps; gain the mathematical edge over the casino by knowing when to bet more and when to bet less; gain the edge by playing better than your opponents in blackjack tournaments.
Your first goal when you gamble should be to have fun, and secondly to win money. Blackjack is one of the few casino games that allow you to accomplish these objectives.
I’ll admit that learning the basic playing strategy takes some effort; however, if you are serious about winning, doesn’t it make sense to arm yourself with the best information available, rather than depend on Lady Luck?
There is no way you can reduce the casino’s edge in blackjack unless you learn the basic playing strategy. It doesn’t take long to do it and once you learn it, you’ll be able to use the strategy for as long as you play blackjack. You can find the basic strategy in any reputable book on blackjack including my new Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, a free online book available at www.888casino.com/blog. Chapter 3 contains color-coded basic strategy charts for any given set of playing rules, while Chapter 4 gives you tools to help you learn the basic strategy. You should also consider bringing a blackjack strategy card with when you play (they are casino-legal; see my book for the strategy cards that I recommend). Likewise, it’s important to check the playing rules before you sit down and play. For example, blackjack games that only pay 6-5 for a blackjack are horrible and should be avoided. (See Chapter 6 for a listing of the good and bad rules).
Not all blackjack players take advantage of comps and that’s unfortunate. Why? Because by asking and getting comps, you can reduce the house edge further and sometimes gain the monetary edge over the casino. This works because the casino assumes a 1–2% edge over the masses of players who play blackjack. But the smart basic strategy player only faces a 0.5% (or lower) edge. This difference often results in the basic strategy player getting more comps then the casino thinks they will win from the player. The bottom line is that most basic strategy players who ask and receive comps will push their overall return to near, or slightly over, 100%. Trust me you won’t get this type of return by playing the slots.
Thirdly, it’s possible to get the mathematical edge over the casino when you play blackjack by betting more when you have the edge on the next hand. How do you know when this happens? You must learn card counting. This is not really as difficult as you think especially with the new simplified card counting systems that take less than an hour to master. (Speed Count is an example of one system; for more, consult the entry-level card counting systems in Chapter 10.8.)
Smart blackjack players can also gain the edge by entering blackjack tournaments where your primary adversary is not the casino it’s the other tournament players. Whether you win or lose your bets against the casino is not important. What matters is whether you win more (or lose less) than your opponents. By being more skillful in tournament play than your fellow table players, you can gain the edge over them. The bible for blackjack tournament strategy is Kenneth Smith’s How to Win Blackjack Tournaments (available online at www.bjinsider.com).
Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the author of Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide (http://www.888casino.com/blog/casino-guides/blackjack/, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com), lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, and host of smartgaming.com. For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to www.bjinsider.com/freetrial. To receive his free Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit www.smartgaming.com.
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 Bad Weather Leads to Big Win
Cleaning up by Cleaning Up!
A patch of bad weather was enough to keep Joemel Panisa of Logsden, Oregon, indoors for the day. Luckily, he chose to spend the time cleaning his home office, during which he came across a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket that was just eight days away from expiring. The ticket was worth $1 million. Panisa redeemed his ticket in time and became the fourth Mega Millions winner since the game was introduced to Oregon in 2010. He said he placed the ticket in an envelope and put it in his home office, where it was left forgotten for nearly a year.
19-Year-Old Wins Big
Zachary Pearson of Braintree, Massachusetts, became the ninth grand prize winner in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s $1,000 a Week for Life instant game after he received lottery tickets as a gift and used the winnings to purchase more, including the grand prize winner. Pearson, who is just 19 years old, opted to receive his prize in payments of $1,000 a week for the rest of his life before tax withholdings, rather than the $800,000 cash option. It is estimated that he stands to reap $3.3 million over his lifetime. Pearson told lottery officials he plans to use his winnings to pay college tuition and buy a new car.
Janitor Scores $2 Million
A high school janitor has won $2 million from a scratch-off ticket bought in Gurnee, Illinois. David Martinez purchased the ticket at a local gas station. When he initially scratched the ticket, he thought he had won $100,000. On second look he realized that it was $100,000 times 20, or $2 million. Martinez has worked as a custodian in the New Trier High School district since 1982. Despite his good fortune, he says he has no plans to quit his job.
El Gordo Strikes Again
Workers at a home for the elderly were among those celebrating in Madrid, Spain, after all the tickets with the top prize-winning number in Spain’s €2.3 billion (US$2.4 billion) lottery were sold in one city neighborhood. The number 66513 appeared on 1,650 tickets in the lottery known as El Gordo (“The Fat One”), with each ticket holder winning €400,000 (US$418,000). Other lotteries have larger individual top prizes, but El Gordo—which dates from 1812—is ranked as world’s richest for the total prize money awarded. Standard tickets cost €20 each (US$21) and people traditionally chip in and buy shares in several tickets with friends, family or workmates. Many of the tickets were bought by workers and residents at the neighborhood’s Penuelas retirement home, where staff members have been buying the same ticket number for 14 years.