I recently returned from a 3-day trip to Wendover, Nevada. I can say with utmost certainty that it will be my last trip there to gamble. I saw too many things that caused me agita.
Keeping in the spirit of the recent Academy Awards presentation, here are my nominees for “Biggest Idiot(s) in Wendover:”
1. Nominee: The blackjack players who religiously play the Royal Match side bet. The three main hotels/casinos in Wendover are the Montego Bay, Peppermill and Rainbow. (For the purposes of this blog entry, and since I will never gamble in Wendover again, I will refer to them as “Greedy Trinity.”) The Greedy Trinity properties now offer a Royal Match side bet on single-deck blackjack tables that pays 10-1 if your first two cards are a suited king and queen and pays 3-1 if the first two cards are the same suit. The probably of getting a suited king and queen is approximately 1 in 331. The odds of getting any suited pair are slightly less than 1 in 4. [Note: it is not exactly 1 in 4 as you might think.] Combined, the probability of winning the Royal Match side bet is 26.4%. What a greedy proposition for the Greedy Trinity! Yet, players flock to the side bet like it was a Krispy Kreme doughnut. At one time during my recent trip, I saw a guy betting two hands of $25 on blackjack, but playing an additional $100 on each hand for the Royal Match bet. I asked him, “Do you ever play slot machines?” He responded, “Hell no!” I then responded with a chuckle, “You know, there’s not a slot machine in this entire building that has worse payouts than the Royal Match bet.” His response, “I’m here to gamble.” The next hand, he won $300 when he received a suited pair. He looked at me like he was Albert Einstein. I looked at him like he was an Einstein bagel. A stale one.
2. Nominee: The person or persons in Greedy Trinity senior management who decided to change their single-deck blackjack rules so that a player can only double down on a ten or eleven. From what I understand, the other two casinos in Wendover followed suit thereafter. Before the change, Wendover was known as the Blackjack Mecca in the US for card-counters. Now it is a wasteland inside the casinos more than it ever was outside the casinos.
3. Nominee: The pit boss in one of the Greedy Trinity casinos who was smoking and checking his iPhone while in the pit. I’m not judging his smoking or surfing, but c’mon…while you are working?! Very classy behavior. I wish I was a thief…I suspect that it might’ve been relatively easy to get away with a crime during his shift. I gave this guy a nickname: Turd Ferguson.
4. Nominee: A different pit boss who chastised me for cursing. I usually remain calm while playing blackjack, but I lost my cool one day last week when the guy next to me hit a 14 vs the dealer’s six. I was playing two hands of $200 since the true count was +4. I even asked the guy beforehand, “You’re not gonna hit that, are you?” The man pondered for a second, then hit…and busted. I stayed with two pat hands. The dealer uncovered a face card then drew a 5 for a 21. I can’t remember exactly what I said loudly, but it was something that contained a less-than-fond reference to our almighty creator. The pit boss raced over to our table and informed me in a teacher-like tone that I was not allowed to curse in the casino. Here he was, taking a rusty knife on behalf of his corporate masters and using it to carve out all humility and money from the average player, and I was was being lectured for exercising much needed freedom of speech.
5. Nominee: The Greedy Trinity marketing staff who creates their promotional posters and flyers. All of them feature pretty white people laughing at the tables with stacks of black and green chips in front of them on the table games. In reality, the casinos mainly cater to scraggly white people who reek of alcohol and cigarettes or asians and hispanics who have stacks and stacks of chips, but they are $1 each and used mostly to play the Royal Match side bet.
6. Nominee: The Greedy Trinity pit bosses and floor managers who constantly manage the blackjack tables so that they are occupied by at least three or four players. Even at $25 tables, playing by yourself is rarely an option. On this most recent trip, I had better luck playing with myself in the hotel room.
With all these great nominees, it is hard to select a winner. However, I have determined a clear cut winner with extreme prejudice and confidence. Envelope please…the biggest idiot in Wendover last week was me! Wendover Will (the giant neon cowboy who greets visitors on the west side of town) may be the biggest icon in Wendover, but for a brief few days last week, I was the biggest idiot in town. You know why? Because I went to Wendover not knowing that the ludicrous ten and eleven double-down only rule had been instituted by the Greedy Trinity on all their single-deck table games almost six months previously. I knew about the goofy Royal Match players, and the almost-always full tables…I used workarounds for those obstacles on many previous trips to Wendover. There is no work-around for the new crappy rules. I was the biggest idiot in Wendover for going there in the first place. I am the biggest idiot for not paying closer attention to online blackjack blogs. If I had, I never would’ve ventured to the land of the Greedy Trinity.
I accept this award on behalf of all advantage players. Pretty soon, there will no blackjack games for us to take advantage.