Mar 12
by Rolka Nation

Greetings, fellow degenerates!  Long time, no write.  First of all, some business to get out of the way.  I have previously been known here under the moniker of Pittsburgh Gil.  But that shall be no longer.  From this date on, I shall be known as Rolka Nation.  Why?  Shut up, don’t ask questions.  Kidding.  About 4 months ago, I started a full-time blogging endeavor called Rolka Nation’s Brewery, a craft beer themed site containing news, reviews, event info, videos, and more.  Check out my antics there.

On to the good stuff.  As you know, the crew recently took Vegas by storm yet again this past February.  This was my first trip out in roughly 17 months, which was quite the gap for me.  Therefore, it was time to do some serious gambling.  The budget wasn’t high but substantial and enough to maintain 3 days of play barring disastrous bad luck.

I learned the “hedge economics” blackjack betting system from ol’ Donnie Boy long ago and have practiced it.  However, I had never experienced that mystical run of winning a lot of consecutive hands to really cash in on it.

Until now…

My oh my, what a trip I had.  The good luck began the first night.  All 5 of us were playing at one table and I made a nice little $60 profit in about an hour.  A good way to start the trip.  The day was long, travel was involved, so off to bed I went at a decent hour.  But this, my friends, was just the beginning.

Day 2 was a little up and down but saw me come out slightly ahead again due to a nice quick session at Ellis Island as we awaited our table where we enjoyed engorging ourselves on their excellent BBQ.  The rest of the night saw me come out about even.

Day 3…wow.  It all started prior to dinner during the late afternoon.  Donnie, Lori, and War Eagle were at Caesar’s but I stayed behind at Harrah’s (homebase) as I had scheduled a deep tissue massage that afternoon at the spa.  No, I’m not kidding.  I like an occassional massage and schvitz in the sauna.  Deal with it.

So I had some time to myself post-massage.  I, of course, went to the casino and found one of the few 3-2 paying BJ tables in Harrah’s.  It’s located near an intrusive column right by the roulette tables, facing the cage.  This is likely placed her on purpose.  Know this and play at it, good stuff.  I bought in $100 and there were just 2 others at the table playing.  Well, before I knew it, I had turned that $100 into $375.  I won 6 or 7 hands in a row and had a couple of smaller runs mixed in there.  The session didn’t last long as the other two gentlemen pulled anchor and it was just me by my lonesome playing.  Not digging that vibe, I cashed out my $375 and rolled.

But wait, there’s more.  We had a fine dining experience at The Range, Harrah’s Steakhouse, and headed down to the casino for one last casino games session on our final night in town.  This is when the magic began.

Things got off to a bad start.  Lori and I sat down at a BJ table and each quickly lost $100.  This literally lasted less than 15 minutes and, being highly stuffed with steak and wine, I was about to call it a night.  However, it was still fairly early.  I played a little Pai Gow with Don and lost badly.  Things were looking even more grim.  I wondered back to my winning table from earlier in the day and saw Lori and Mr. Cub playing amongst the seat-filled action.  I observed for a while and then Mr. Cub busted out.  A seat was opened. Ok, one last time.

I sat down and my luck immediately took off.  I can’t remember too many exacts, but I know that I won either 9 or 10 consecutive hands and my bet got up to roughly $120 before I lost.  Wow, was this a rush.  I hit blackjack twice (3-2 remember) with $60 and $75 bets on the table.  My arms were raised high in the air, my voice bellowed in cheer, and my heart raced.  It wasn’t too long before I cashed out my $100 buy-in at a cool $600.

For the trip, I actually left with more money than I went with including every single expense while in town.  Food, cabs, drinks, the massage, my room…all of it.  So basically, a completely all-expenses paid Vegas Vacation.  Nice.

Never before had I experienced such a mystical run.  The ones you hear tales of.

I can’t wait for the next….

Sep 9
by Don

Just getting back from Vegas over the holiday weekend and we have a ton to talk about. There will be reviews, observations, stories and the like, but I had to start with what I can only describe as, “The Run”. If you have been reading our blog for any length of time you know that I am a big believer of Hedge Economics. I have talked about the basic principles here, how they help you get rated and free stuff from casinos here, and have even given some real world examples of some outcomes to give you an idea of what to expect here. All of that is well and good, but when it goes right it’s a sight to behold. Well Lori had one of those runs that exemplify the pure beauty of the theory. When applied properly, under the right circumstances, and with the fortitude to remain true to the escalating betting patterns, the outcome can really be nice. 

So to set the scene it’s around 9:30 am on Saturday and we are up and ready to roll. Destination; the main pit at Caesar’s. We love this place because of the chill atmosphere, older dealers, and great player payouts in that you can split A’s up to 4 times, BJ pays 3 to 2, and you can surrender as well. But really, we mainly love this place because we win, and Lori normally wins big. There was nothing really spectacular happening. Lori survived a couple of shoes with little to write home for, but the third shoe was the magical one. About half way through that 3rd shoe (one that Lori cut, which is crazy because that normally isn’t a good thing) Lori starts her run. She wins the first 4 hands and now has her bet up to $125. So that’s a nice start, but nothing out of the ordinary. At this point she ups her hedge amount to $50 per hand. This is nice as she wins the next 5 hands and her bet is now up to $350. Excellent. Especially since the next hand is a BJ! Yes!

Even Julius is pointing the way for Lori's seige at Ceasar'sLori continues to hedge and now is up the $400 and gets a double down opportunity. Now it’s not your normal 11 versus dealer 6. That could be something that is easy to pull the trigger on. However it’s a soft Ace (A4 vs.4) and this was something that Lori would not have done in the past, but this trip we talked about playing all of angles. This means you are playing it by the book, the whole book and that includes doubling on the right soft Aces, splitting small pairs versus dealer 2-6 (or 7), and just believing in doing the right thing. So there is a moment where the dealer pauses before he pulls out the cards, but eventually he busts and boom, winner $800. Now what’s great about that is that she pulls back $1200 and then puts another $50 up on her bet and wins the next hand as well. She wins two more hands and I am just praying for the shoe to end.

Well it finally came to the end after 13 straight wins. She played out the remainder of the shoe, which was only another 2 hands left, and then takes an inventory of the rampage and decides to go to the cage. Lori bought into the table with $300 and left with $2775. I would say that qualifies as “The Run”.

Sep 2
by MDF

I will preface the following image by saying, if this happened in the real world I would have killed myself.


I was just playing a random game of my favorite iPhone app, 21 Pro, when it goes and deals the above hand…in real life to me this is worse than losing a hand. I would have been using Hedge Economics, I would have been jumping for joy to pull trip 21, and then only to watch no-one win… what an epic FAIL.

Aug 30
by Don

It has been some time since we have had an installment of hedge economics, so let’s correct that shall we? 

I think that it bears repeating that the over goal of the approach is to maximize your winning potential while minimizing your exposure; i.e. your bankroll!  So if you don’t play at a 6-8 deck manual shuffle table with about 2-3 other players all playing proper Blackjack, your expected positive return will be diminish. But you know all that, so now what?

When I tell people about the mechanics of hedge economics I get a wide range of looks from puzzled, to intrigued, to crazy enthusiasm.  Whatever the case may be, I almost always get the, “does it actually work?”  Well let’s look at the last four sessions that I had while in Vegas as a case study.

The first place that I sat down was Paris.  There was a nice mix of people and I settled down at first base with 3 other people at the start of a new shoe.  I started with $400 in chips and a $30 min bet.  I do this mainly because I like to be able to hedge up to $50 after a win and not be basically “stacking” my bet without pulling something back.  I talk in detail about this in the first post on hedge economics, so I won’t go over all of the reasons why, but the main increments of hedging after wins is a green $25 chip, or quarter.

The play was crisp and I got a lot of double down opportunities and got on a nice roll towards the later 3rd of the shoe.  At the height of the run I was at around $1150.  Normally this would have been a good place to stop, but I was having a good time and just decided to ride out the rest of the shoe.  There were some more up and downs for the rest of the ride, but as the dust settled I got up from the table with $1047.  Not bad for the first run.

The next day I sat down at $25 table at Caesar’s with $400 and hopes of another little run.  I like playing at the main pit because they offer the best possible players odds and generally most people down there play straight.  So after about an hour and a half of nothing great there was a nasty little run of about 6 or so straight losses and bang I am tapped out.

That’s not unusual mainly because if you do everything right you are happy with about a 50/50 chance of winning.  The key is to really get the most out of the times that you are winning, and either minimize your losses or elongate your play.

Well I am not one to be deterred, so I sidled up to another table later that night and bought in again for $400.  Unfortunately for the home team the results weren’t that great.  I liked my tablemates, but 3rd base left and was replaced by this woman who was playing scared.  She announces after the 2nd time I watch her not take a card with 16 versus a dealer 10 card that she never hits 16.  I look at her and then look at my chips knowing that they will all be in the dealers rack before too long.  I was right and well I have no one to blame but myself.  I should have just gotten up, but I decided to roll with it.  Well “it” cost me my buy in.

So at this point I am down and don’t have much to say for myself other than I just need to find the right table.  And that table came late at Paris.  There was 5 people already seated and the dealer was shuffling so I said what the heck and I sat down with my usual $400.

Since it was late, Lori decided just to watch me as I had told her that I was only going to play a little bit and then we could go to bed.  She normally plays herself, but wanted to show me a little support.  How nice.

Well this shoe was hot from the jump.  I win the first 12 hands and frankly could have won even more if the guy on my left would have hit that soft 17 like he should have.  It was equally tough in that I had about $250 out there and a 20 in the hole so my stomach sank a little when the dealer turned a 6 card 21.  Dems the breaks as they say.

I decide to continue the ride it out and almost immediately got on another roll.  I won another 7-8 hands in a row and really had some nice BJ sprinkled in there and looked at my stack and decided just to cash out.  I didn’t even play an entire shoe and I cashed out with $1205 after tips and what not.

So what’s the bottom line?  I think that these 4 consecutive runs capture the essence of what happens on average in that when you lose you only lose what you are willing to wager (in my case I wagered my entire buy in each time) and when you win you can really max it out.  Now it’s important to note that you have to understand that when you are on a great run and then you have a couple of losses of your min. bet you have an opportunity to reassess and take your winnings off the table.  When you are on a negative run you don’t necessarily have to risk your total buy in, but you won’t lose more than you put out there.  These two points are equally important as you don’t want to sit at a table too long when you have won a bunch because you don’t want to give it all back, and you certainly don’t have to stick around to get your head kicked in if you are running bad either.

Just remember to always be getting on that roller coaster on the way up and don’t be afraid to get off before the point that everyone starts screaming!

Jun 30
by Don

So during one of our Vegas romps; myself, Lori, and 44 were at the Mirage playing blackjack at around 2 pm.  There weren’t a lot of people there and basically we were just going to kill some time before we had to go somewhere to do something else.  44 has an incredible ability to plan for things, but not over plan.  He always comes correct with a dinner reservation that is on point with whomever we are running with at the time.  A fancy affair is normally the case at least once a trip, however this was not going to be one of those evenings.

Nevertheless, we are all playing blackjack at one of the handicap tables that are always sprinkled throughout a casino on a few blackjack pits.  You can recognize them because they are always low (like the old school sit down table top video games) and there is always a seat missing for someone in a wheel chair to roll up in.  Cool.

Our dealer had to be, no lie, 80+.  He was funny, but kind of crotchety.  Like, “I have survived WWII for this shit?” kind of crotchety.  It was glorious.  We laughed at him and each other while we were playing and 44even tried to get a picture on his first generation camera phone, FAIL.  However we were happy just playing and killing time.  This was mainly due to the fact that our dealer was slow.  I mean like mind numbingly slow.  But that was cool because we are all having a good time and he was telling jokes and just generally being old and ornery.

It could have been great, but really Paul you are too damn slow!Now contrast this with the experience that Lori and I just had at Caesars. Lori was playing in the main pit off of the entrance (which has some of the best players odds in all of Vegas) and I was watching her and the roulette table next to her.  There were some crazy drunk people who claimed to have a “system” for roulette.  Of course it didn’t work, but I digress.

So Paul (the dealer) is a young man by comparison.  Seemingly in control of all of his motor skills, married, and even had a friend meet up with him during his break.  What he didn’t have was any semblance of speed by which to deal the damn game.  He was so deliberately slow that several players left out of disgust.  It was just so choppy and purposefully slow that it made it hard to even enjoy the “action”.  Now from a player rating standpoint this is a good thing because you are rated on the length of time you play versus your avg. bet size.  However there comes a point where it’s just too slow.  This was that point.

Eventually Lori made a little money and we had to bounce.  Paul was killing the Mojo, and we just had to find a new spot to start punishing Vegas.  That spot as it turned out, was Harrah’s. Thanks Paul for umm, nothing.

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