I'm going to a casino tonight!!!

Discussion in 'Sidewalk Cafe' started by Reachy, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. Reachy

    Reachy New Member

    And I'm all excited!!!!!! It's my first time.

    It's The Grosvenor Plymouth, 3 BJ tables, crappy UK rules, £5-£200. Almost certainly CSM but might be lucky and get a 6 deck (they won't tell me over the phone for some reason). Double 9,10 and 11 only. At least BJ's play 3:2. I'll be playing BS mostly but if I feel confident I might try counting :eek: !

    Wish me good variance and positive EV.


  2. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member

  3. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Casino Royale

    The name's Reachy, James Reachy :D

    I've not been to a Grosvenor, but for what it's worth I'm yet to encounter a CSM (Gala, LCI, and Stanley all used 6-deck shoes).

    I'm surprised £5 is the minimun bet. That is true in London, but £2 seems to be more usual in the rest of the country. And be warned that there may be only one table offering those limits and it could get very busy in the evening.

    Also, don't forget the major strategy difference for UK rules - since you lose all your bets if the dealer gets a BJ :-
    • You shouldn't double 11 against a 10 or A
    • Split Aces against a 10, but apart from that don't split anything against 10 or A

    Good luck.
  4. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member

    Table Limit

    You are right Colin.

    My son played BJ last week at the Bolton Grosvenor Casino on £2 tables so I am sure it will be the same at Plymouth.

    Look for the sign at the table Reachy.

    PS Don't do what I do and go into tournament mode.

    Trying to split 4's 5's and 10's in a British Casino is strictly illegal and asking a female dealer to surrender will probably get you beaten up by the door men.

    Andy :laugh:
  5. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Also, for some reason the terminology is different. Rather than saying 'hit' or 'stand', players say 'card' or 'no card'. That seems like a terribly bad idea to me, since the dealer simply has to not hear the 'no' part to completely reverse the meaning. I tend to add the appropriate hand gestures to try and avoid any confusion.
  6. toolman1

    toolman1 Active Member

    GOOD LUCK, Reachy. Since the rules seems to be bad, make sure you go with a loss limit in mind. Should be an interesting experience for you. Let us know your results and other thoughts (as if you would keep them to yourself :D ).
  7. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    Good Luck

    and don't hesitate to do a little counting - even a simple hi-low count system can help improve your odds - let us all know how you do -
  8. elyssez

    elyssez Member


    Congrats, Reachy!!!! Hope It'll be all that you've dreamed of. Let us know!!!!:)
  9. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member

    Missing in action


    It’s 1 pm our time and we have still not heard from Reachy who would normally be writing his 5th post by now.

    Did he “bottle it” and never got on a BJ table. Or is he still hungover from the all night drinking?

    Andy :laugh:
  10. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    A night out in Plymouth ....

    Maybe he got press-ganged into the navy. :)
  11. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member

    It's not looking good

    Well. It’s gone 4pm now over here and my mate Reachy has still has not surfaced so I am starting to get worried.

    I think that being press-ganged into the Navy would be a far easier option as opposed to telling your wife how much money you lost in a casino.

    Andy ;)
  12. Joep

    Joep Active Member


    Do you think the same thing happened to him that happened to Bunny last weekend.
    Are cherries a big fruit over in England ?:bomb:

  13. Reachy

    Reachy New Member

    My first time!

    Wow. What an experience. It both was and wasn’t what I expected. Let me explain….

    Plymouth, Devon, UK is not Las Vegas. Not even close. It’s a medium-sized provincial city in one of the more rural parts of the UK in the south west peninsula. It has a great naval history and I guess a lot of our American cousins will be familiar with it from their history classes, the Mayflower and all that.

    Plymouth does in fact have 2 casinos, The Grosvenor and Stanley’s. I chose to go to the Grosvenor. Actually my wife and I both went; she gave me “permission” only if she could come as well and of course I had no problem with that at all. So after a meal in a Tapas bar we made our way over to the casino. Until recently in the UK you needed to apply for membership 24 hours in advance of playing at a casino but that law has recently been relaxed. You still need to become a member but you can do it on the day. So forms filled in, photos taken, membership cards issued we made our way upstairs to the gaming floor.

    I suspect that any American visiting a casino in the UK wouldn’t recognise it as a casino at all, certainly not compared to LV. I’d already managed my expectations of what it would be like but I had to explain to my wife. It wasn’t going to be like being in a James Bond movie, all black ties and tiaras Monte Carlo-style (although I did take my Walther PPK with me) nor was it going to be like Scorsese’s Casino or anything she’d seen on TV about Vegas. The best description I could come up with was “a Mecca Bingo hall with a card room”. Now that analogy may be lost on most people so lets just say I knew it wasn’t going to be classy or glitzy.

    So we’re on the gaming floor and I survey the scene. There are slots, some sort of automated roulette table, live roulette, a 3 card stud table, a Caribbean stud table, more roulette, more automated roulette machines, a card room, and what I’m most interested in, 3 blackjack tables. Only one was open when we arrived as we got their fairly early. We had a wander around and decided to go to the cashier to get some chips. At this point we felt very, very odd. We had no idea what we were doing but didn’t want to appear utter novices. We decided to ease ourselves into things by having a quick go on the 20p (38c) roulette, just to acclimatise you understand. This is when I made my first observation: People enjoy losing and actively try to do so. This was an amazing revelation to me that was reinforced throughout the night. In fact my wife adopted this mentality on many occasions during the session and I had to reprimand her! A couple of guys came to the table, slapped £300 ($577.50) down, and just randomly scattered their chips. A number came up they won a load more money but just put it all back down again, seemingly without a care, and lost it all. That’s it. Gone in 60 seconds! Their mentality and approach was obviously “I don’t want this money, here you have it”

    So we played around for 20 minutes on the roulette table and started to feel more comfortable in our surroundings. During this I was constantly watching the blackjack tables and when we got up I decided to go and watch what was going on more closely. As I said, there were 3 tables, 2 with £5 ($9.63) minimum and one with a £10 ($19.25) minimum but at this point only one of the £5 tables was open. There were 3 people playing, an elderly lady who was lecturing a young guy and a middle-aged obviously well-to-do man. The young guy was playing appallingly as I saw him standing on 11s at one point as well as many other bizarre non-BS plays. She clearly was a regular but wasn’t that much better than he but at least she was playing some BS. The middle-aged guy was doing OK but again making the classic mistakes like standing on stiffs vs. 10s and not doubling or splitting appropriately. This is when my second and third observations were made: People are stupid and most people don’t use basic strategy. I already knew that generally people are stupid but I was surprised that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, was playing more than 50% BS! Now I probably don’t play perfect BS but I’d say it’s pretty damn close. I’d had to learn some different plays to what I’m used to since UK rules are very different to most you’ll find in the US but I’d learned them and it took me 2 minutes. It appears that nobody else thought it was worth a small investment of their time to learn the best way to play the game they were investing 100s of their hard earned pounds in.

    So I took a deep breath, pulled up a stool, sat down and got my chips out. I was away. I won my first few hands and within about 20 minutes I’d doubled up. This was easy. More people came to the table and the others opened up as the casino stated to fill up. I took a break and went and watched some of the other tables. Again I was amazed that most people don’t use basic strategy. People were standing on all stiffs even when the dealer had 10 or Aces showing. Those that hit small stiffs and got bigger stiffs stood on the bigger ones. Why?

    Anyway, I returned to the fray, sitting at a spare seat that came up at one of the busier noisier tables. There had been some pretty poor play by all concerned and there was a self-proclaimed expert at the table telling everybody what to do. He was giving really bad advice and people were following his lead. He was reciting the one of the classics by telling everybody that you should play as if the dealers 2nd card is a 10, telling them to double all 9,10, and 11s (UK BS: DD 9 vs. 2-6, 10 & 11 vs. 2-10) and getting everybody to stand on 14, 15 and 16 regardless of dealer upcard. Now you might not believe this but I am actually quite a quiet guy until you get to know me. So I start playing and using BS religiously without obvious emotion, not flinching when my stiffs bust or doubles miss, and I’m absolutely silent. This gets the attention of the table. I’m also in last position on the table so they all think that I play a big part in the dealer’s outcome. Anyway my hits on 15s and 16s draw gasps from my new friends and my splitting of 3s vs. dealer 7 with both hands requiring hits on stiffs to complete gets a round of applause!

    After an hour or 2 of this people start to ask my advice on what to do, “should I split these 8s?” D’oh! (UK BS: Hit vs. T or A). People start to backline me. I’m maintaining my frosty exterior but inside I wince as the player to my right stays on his 12 vs. 10 because “I always bust on 12s”. My final and most worrying observation was that I was the most knowledgeable blackjack player in the casino that night! I had to chuckle to myself as this dawned on me.

    When we finally went back to the hotel it was 2:30am. We’d been playing for 6 hours and had a really great time. We’d both noticed when we were in the casino that most overheard conversations were along the lines of “Dave’s just lost £500 and he’s skint” or “Hilda’s £200 down on the night” or “I had my Aces cracked when I was all-in”. Very few were “I’ve just won £300 on £10 BJ”. With that in mind, can you guess what conversation my wife and I were having on the walk back?


  14. Barney Stone

    Barney Stone New Member

    Reach this Cerry is for u!


    Attached Files:

  15. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member

    Reachy is back

    Just as I was getting worried, you come back with a great post.

    Andy ;)
  16. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Well done Reachy

    A few questions and observations for you ...

    I think the automated roulette machines may have all been linked to the actual physical wheel, allowing more people to play than could crowd around the table. I was given a tour when I joined my first casino and that seemed to be how it was explained (I wasn't really interested, but didn't want to seem too obsessed with blackjack). I think they also display the results of the last several spins, to encourage those who believe that this will help them predict the future!

    Did you try out your counting skills? The thing that surprised me was just how fast the dealers are. Obviously the more hands they can deal per hour, the more money the casino makes; I think it is this, rather than any attempt to make counting difficult that is the motivation. It didn't help my novice attempts though. :(

    I had thought that all UK casinos are obliged to have exactly the same rules, but I found that Stanley added H17 to the already poor mix. (Although the dealer said this might be changing since they had just been taken over.) Do you recall whether Grosvenor was S17 or H17?

    I think I read somewhere that if everybody just played BS, let alone counted cards, then the casinos couldn't even cover their overheads and would have to either not offer blackjack or change the rules again. So I suppose the bad players are as important to the advantage players as they are to the casinos, which is actually quite a sobering thought.

    If you are going to play more often it would be a good idea to try to track down a £2 table. I've stopped playing in London and instead spend three London min bets on a return train ticket to Southend, where I can play for £2. That way I don't have to raise my bets to astronomical (for me) limits in order to make any kind of dent in the house edge.
  17. elyssez

    elyssez Member

    Congrats on a wonderful evening! You're one on us now, and there's no turning back.;)
  18. Reachy

    Reachy New Member


    There were automatic roulette machines as well as the computer-linked-to-the-live-table affairs. The automatic ones had 8 chairs around them and an enclosed roulette wheel. There were touch sensitive screens next to each seat where you could bet. Once the ball had landed the center of the roulette wheel lifted up and the ball disappeared. It was then fired out of a hole in the side for the next turn. So tedious but it kept the missus busy for an hour or two ;) !

    The speed of the game was the first thing I noticed and not having totals helpfully displayed underneath your cards didn't help. Damn the internet and its convenient helpfullness. It took me a few minutes to get used to it and some of the dealers were very quitely spoken so it was difficult to hear sometimes.

    As for players not knowing or using BS I realised early on that it wasn't in my best interests to give away too much. As I started to get a little more chatty with the other players and they started asking advice (!!) I actually thought to myself "I need these players to play badly so that the casinos take all their money and give it to me". Like you said if everybody played correctly, in the long-term it would be bad for blackjack.

    I did think about trying counting just for the practice. Obviously the CSMs render it ineffective but it's always good to have a go. I didn't though. Will do next time.

    I'll be hunting around for lower minimum bets as well. For me, the biggest psychological hurdle to starting was the £5 minimum bet. By the end of the night the chips were just tokens and I didn't look at them as £5 notes. Not sure whether that was good or bad. Do you know what Stanleys minimum bets are? I have other choices in Bristol, Exeter, Torquay and my brother lives in Southampton so I will investigate those.

    The rules at the Grosvenor were S17. Their blurb says that it is their policy to use CSMs but in both Southampton and Bournemouth they don't.


  19. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    way to go reachy

    as I posted a while back - just knowing and playing something close to basic strategy puts you into the elite top 1% of all blackjack players in any casino you go into :) amazing isn't it :) - now you just need to find a tourney to play :D
  20. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    a comment on London's comment

    has anyone worked out what the casino's actual advantage is over the average (very bad) player? I remember reading somewhere a long time ago, that it could be as high as 15% to 20% - that seems too high to me - but - as Reachy saw - when you see how most people play - maybe not -

    I also have the feeling that if everyone started to play basic strategy - the casinos would just do the same for bj as they do for pai-gow - and start taking a 'commission' on player wins -

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