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The greatest blackjack game of all time17 June 2010
Do you want to know what constituted the greatest blackjack game of all time? It was a combination of wonderful rules, amazingly deep penetration into the deck, and a highly sophisticated casino attitude on the part of the executives and pit people.
I played this perfect blackjack game once, long ago, in Vegas.
My wife, the beautiful A.P., and I were a blackjack team from 1986 until 2000. We were a great team. In the 1990s, when our kids were going to private high schools and then on to college we used to make "tuition runs." That was pressure. And the moment the youngest one graduated college in 2000 A.P. said, "I quit."
The greatest summer we ever spent was eight weeks in 1991 at the old Maxim, where they dealt a single-deck game all the way to the bottom and if the dealer ran out of cards he just reshuffled the deck and kept dealing. The only card a player didn't see was the burn card.
I learned a little known technique called "end-play" at this game. When the cards ran out and the old cards were brought back into play, you did a reshuffle of the count. I got to play with some of the great card counters of those days, the greatest of which was the late Paul Keen, a man every blackjack authority went to in order to check their statistics and facts. He was the only card counter I ever met who could actually follow cards through a shuffle in a six-deck game. (You never heard of him? Savor this: The most famous card counter of all time, Ken Uston, used to go to Paul for advice!)
In that Maxim game, you could spread your bets from $5 to $500 in one giant leap if you wished and no casino pit person cared that players were counting cards or leaping their bets like Superman leapt off tall buildings in a single bound. During that summer we averaged over eight hours of play a day, each of us playing two hands. It was an amazing game with these rules:
And by heaven a full range of other comps to boot.
We started that summer as red-chip players; we ended it as black and purple-chip players making those $500 bets with impunity and fearlessness. The beautiful AP had to sew our winnings in my suit from toe to collar since I was afraid to carry so much cash in a suitcase. You've seen those movies where the giant suitcase is filled with hundred-dollar stacks after the great bank robbery? Imagine doing that legally.
I've never run into a game like that since then — or any game even close to that game. I mean even basic strategy players had an edge at the game. A basic strategy player could start at $500 a hand if he wanted to!
Four weeks after we left Vegas, the Maxim shut down that game. One's first thought would be that the card counters went nuts and took all the money, but that is far from the truth. Here's what actually happened in those eight weeks we spent in the Maxim heaven:
In short, the Maxim was hopping! Money was flowing in torrents at all these table-games and in all those slot machines. It was hard to get a hotel room — even in the deadly heat of a Las Vegas summer. Those single-deck games lured the players in. Even the worst players came because they figured they had a chance to win at such a great game, even if they had no idea how to play such a great game or any blackjack game for that matter. And if they couldn't get a seat at the single-deck game, did those players leave? No, they went to the other tables to play. They played the slot machines too.
The Maxim was the place to be that summer.
Then it ended. The Maxim went back to the normal Vegas games, the crowds departed, the Maxim went bankrupt in a couple of years, closed its doors and was then sold to the Westin chain.
But for that summer, for that glorious summer, it was the only and the greatest game in town!
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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