Jeff Tune's Gambling Blog
Saturday, 18 January 2014
There are some days when you just have to throw up your hands and say "I give up, I will try another day." Today was one of those days.
My plan tonight was to bet a few Woodbine harness races and play some blackjack (got a $5 match play available). I also printed out some of the Fairgrounds races since I thought I might get to the track fairly early. I liked a couple of longshots in FG 5th race and wanted to get some pick threes going. I won't go into the details but I played some rolling pick threes with those two. One of them won at 26-1 but I couldn't get the 4-5 Steve Asmussen-trained Stage Street to hang on next race, he lost by a head (pick three was paying $136 for a dollar). Missed a small P3 at Woodbine when when my horse finished 2nd by a head. Then in the Woodbine 5th my choice finishes second at 5-1.
Ok, do I dare go play blackjack? Sure! I spy a table, new shoe going. I watch a few hands - lots of low cards coming out which means deck should be player-friendly. I sit down and the dealer is Jenny. I get a blackjack early on and even win a double down (my 6 2 against dealer's 5). But Jenny Jenny, you are too lucky. She beats my match play by getting a blackjack. Pulls another BJ along the way. Then beats my 20 with a 21. Needless to say, I didn't play too long. I get up and leave down $12.50. I never exceeded a $10 bet. In fact I never won a $10 bet!
So I come back to my seat in the simulcast area with two minutes to Woodbine's 7th. I place a win bet on 10-1 Lyonssweetie who had a deceptively nice win on sloppy Boxing Day. Lyonssweetie is boxed in 5th coming into the stretch, but driver Randy Waples finds room and surges to the lead and looks like a winner. But 34-1 Backyard Baby comes flying out of nowhere to win by a head. Seconditis. It sucks.
Monday, 13 January 2014
Good news! Presque Isle Downs and Casino sent me a new sheet of match play coupons. Bad news - they are only $5 coupons. I guess this is the result of all my play at the $5 blackjack tables back in November. I was much more excited about $80 in match play (eight $10 coupons) vs. the current $50 match play of ten $5 coupons. Needless to say, I let my first four coupons expire but used number five tonight. Let the 2014 blackjack playing begin!
Sorry, I didn't note the dealer's name tonight but she wasn't very friendly and the table was kind of boring also. The dealer was pretty lucky but I won my $5 match play. I doubled down once - on 11 against the dealer's 10. I got a 10 for a total of 21 and she had 20.
Key hand: I had 8 8. Dealer had an 8. I split my eights and got another 8! So now I have three $5 bets going. I ended up with 18, 18, and bust. Dealer busted so I made $5. I didn't play very long and left after I lost three in a row. I ended up $5 ahead! Thank you match play!
Thursday, 2 January 2014
2013 will be a year I will never forget thanks to my first place finish in the World Harness Handicapping Championship at the Meadowlands in April. I've always said I'm a better harness handicapper than thoroughbred player and I guess this proves it. My first place prize of $41,334 was by far the most money I've ever won. It was very exciting and I discussed it in detail in an older blog entry.
However, my regular betting throughout the year resulted in a loss of $521. What happened? Let's take a look at the good and bad of 2013.
- My WHHC win last April at THe Meadowlands
- Another good Saratoga meet
- Hoosier Park was a profitable track!
- Improvement at Mohawk/Woodbine
- Did ok with online betting
- Low payouts - while 20 cent pick threes are fun to play, they don't help the bottom line. My average pick three payout was less than $25! Ditto for small win bets.
- Meadows schedule change - The Meadows has been my main track for years. Midway through 2013 they decided to run strictly weekday afternoon racing. Because I work a day job I can no longer follow Meadows racing.
- PID - Presque Isle Downs was a losing track for me in 2013
- DQ's - I had really bad luck with disqualifications in 2013. I got dq'd out of a winning pick four at Saratoga. Also had the 6-1 winner of the Arlington Million come down. 16-1 shot at PID came down. And then there was the horse that should have been taken down (see last blog).
- Missed opportunities - note to self: go for the gusto on big racing days! I had the $323 Belmont exacta of Palice Malice/Oxbow picked cold. However I elected to just place a win bet on PM. Likewise in the Breeders Cup Classic I loved Mucho Macho Man and did not like favorite Game On Dude. I had MMM to win at 4-1, but very easily could have had a nice exacta or tri when Game On Dude finished out of the money.
Here is the breakdown of my horse racing winnings:
Thoroughbred Vs. Harness
Harness winnings - 52%
Thoroughbred winnings - 48%
Meadows - 22%
Saratoga - 16%
Mohawk - 12%
Hoosier - 10%
Presque Isle Downs - 10%
Woodbine Harness - 9%
Belmont - 5%
all others - 16%
By Bet Type
Pick Three - 45%
Win - 32%
Daily Double - 16%
Exacta - 7%
Thoroughbred winnings dropped quite a bit from 2012. Mainly due to poor Presque Isle meet. Pick three and win bet winnings were almost exactly opposite in 2012. You would think that such an increase in P3 winnings would bring a positive result but it did not. It is a combination of low pick three payouts and the fact that I only had six win bets pay over 10-1!
As far as other gambling goes, 2013 was a success! I ended up ahead at blackjack $223! Also won $86 in office football pool. Now if I can just start out 2014 by winning one of those Super Bowl squares.
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Happy Boxing Day! For some reason I have a vacation day here in the states so this means I was betting the matinee Woodbine harness racing card today.
The Woodbine track surface was listed as "good" but it really was a mess with wet spots throughout. Closers were having a hard time of it - speed horses had a real edge. There was a $1500 exacta early on and then a 94-1 leading most of the way and finishing second. As a result of the not-so-good conditions I was just fooling around with small .20 pick three bets (and not having any luck).
On the final pick three of the day I punched up a .20 pick ticket - 3 x 2 x 2 for a total of $2.40. In the first leg one of my horses was 22-1 Norvena Hanover who finished second to another 22-1 shot, Selmas Wish. But wait! Stewards Inquiry! Watching the replay, Selmas Wish wiped out a horse on the far turn. There was no doubt in my mind that she would come down. The stewards looked at it for a good five minutes and left the results up! I was shocked. Of course I had the winners of the next two legs and the .20 pick three paid $2092!! Grrrr!!
Friday, 29 November 2013
8 DAYS OF BLACKJACK - DAY 8
Actually day 7 (see last post). Lost $22.50 playing blackjack. I did use my $10 match play at the BJ table and not the roulette table. It looked like I might get on a little streak, so as I progressed to my first $10 bet I used my match play and lost.
I thought I wasn't going to find a seat at a $5 table tonight. Being a holiday weekend the casino only had two $5 tables going - the extra tables that open up on Friday night were all $10 tables! I was about to leave but found a seat. The dealer tonight was Abir and he was very lucky. Nobody at the table was winning, and after the first shoe I was slightly down. I hit one blackjack but never won more than two hands in a row. I only doubled down once and lost. I was hoping the next shoe would be better but Amir pulled a 21 to beat my 20 and then he hit a blackjack on the very next hand. I got up and left.
Tonight ends my blackjack experiment and it was a success! I won four of seven $10 match plays so that was a free $40! My final tally was +122.50.
8 DAYS OF BLACKJACK - DAY 7
Well, there was no day seven. Due to work, family, crappy weather, Thanksgiving, I never made it to the casino to redeem my 7th match play and it has expired. One match play left however, which I will definitely use this weekend. Since it is good for any table game, I'm thinking of using my final match play on the roulette table! I have a nearly 50 percent chance of winning. Actually a 47.4 percent chance due to the green zero and double zero (18 out of 38). Hmmm, red or black, odd or even, 1-18 or 19-36. Stay tuned!
Saturday, 23 November 2013
8 DAYS OF BLACKJACK - DAY SIX
Won my $10 match play. Left the table up $47.50. Here is the lowdown:
I was beginning to think the extra weekend $5 blackjack tables weren't gonna open tonight. I took a walk through the casino around 7:30 PM and there were no signs of any tables opening up. I went back downstairs shortly after 9pm and bingo, there were three tables going. I found a seat at third base. My dealer tonight was Chuda. Chuda wasn't very friendly and didn't speak English very well. He'd count out a player's hand and you couldn't understand him. Some dealers genuinely want you to win but not Chuda. He seemed to delight in beating you.
I didn't start out too well but after one shoe I was about even. The second shoe was much better, and we got a better dealer - Bobby Woo. I asked him if his middle name was Woo and he said no. "Is your last name Woo?" I asked. He told me it's a variation of his last name. Bobby was funny, my favorite dealer yet!
At one point I progressed to a $25 bet, my highest bet recently. Key hand: I had a $20 bet out and doubled down and won (I don't recall the specifics). Nice $40 pickup! I had one blackjack along the way, and had a nice mini-streak where I won a couple double downs.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
8 DAYS OF BLACKJACK - DAY FIVE
Won my $10 match play and left the table $35 ahead. Here is the recap.
I sat down right next to third base, and before I could buy in they switched dealers. And here comes Loud Latoya, my dealer from day one. Loudest dealer in the casino hands down. But I like hearing her yell "TOO MANY" when she busts because that means I'm probably winning.
I was pretty lucky tonight. The third base dude left soon after I sat down and nobody took his seat so I was the third baseman. Only four people at my table (casino was dead tonight - there was an empty $5 table!). I only played one shoe and hit three blackjacks along the way!
Key hand: My match play hand. I had a $10 bet out and used my $10 match play for a total of $20 and got a blackjack! Payoff should be $30 right? Wrong, only $25. Your inital $10 bet pays 3/2 but the match play only pays even money.
Monday, 18 November 2013
MY BLACKJACK BETTING STRATEGY
Any blackjack strategy should begin with the basic strategy - when to hit or stand, and when to split pairs or double down. Learn it and memorize it, or get one of those blackjack cheat sheets - the casino will let you use it when you play. I usually take mine with me to the table.
But what about betting strategy? My favorite blackjack book is titled "Progression Blackjack," by Donald Dahl. The basic premise of the strategy outlined in the book is, "to beat the house you must understand that the dealer will win the majority of the hands. The key is to make more money on the winning hands than is lost on the losing hands. This can only be assured by increasing the bet as you win." Very true. There are times when the cards left in the shoe are favorable to the player and you will go on a winning streak. This is how card counters operate. Check out the book "Bringing Down The House," the true story of six college kids who learned to count cards and won a bundle (the movie "21" was based on this book).
Progression Blackjack offers up a betting progression as follows:
The $10 Progression
Bets are to be made in the order shown starting with the minimum bet of $10. Whenever a bet is lost revert back to the first $10 bet. To enable one to rapidly advance up the betting ladder the rules are as follows:
1. Upon receipt of a blackjack, skip one level of the progression. For example if you are betting the first $10 and get a blackjack, your next bet would be the first $15.
2. Upon winning double on the bet, skip two levels of the progression. For example if you are betting your first $10 and win double, your next bet would be the second $15 bet (skipped second $10 and first $15).
The $5 Progression
This progression strategy has worked very well for me. As you can see if you win one lose one you will break even, and if you win two in a row you will show a profit. I usually play on a $5 table and modify the progression and skip the $7 bets (I don't want to mess around with one dollar chips). This system minimizes possible losses and maximizes gains when you get on a streak. Try it!
Friday, 15 November 2013
8 DAYS OF BLACKJACK - DAY 4
Lost my $10 match play. Left the table down $7.50 - exactly what I won earlier this week.
Kind of a boring session tonight. No key hands. Got one blackjack. I didn't play very long and didn't ever bet more than $10 a hand. But it was a fun table full of inexperienced players. I sat at first base tonight and the dealer was Gyan, from India. Very friendly - he was helping all the players.
So I've reached the midpoint of my 8 days of blackjack $62.50 ahead! I've won two match plays and lost two. I'm having fun at the $5 BJ tables!
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