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sept. 10-19, 1999: a vegas trip blackjack trip diary

2011-09-01 - 9:13 a.m.

Peachfront's Note: Yesterday I reprinted a 1999 booklet about the early days of the Blackjack team, telling the story of how D. & I went from scrounging coins out of buckets to play a 2-to-1 blackjack promotion in Greenville, Mississippi to wind up playing purple ($500 chips) in Las Vegas, Nevada. I usually kept a gambling/tax diary in those days, rather than a formal diary. However, as an Afterword to the booklet, I included this brief diary.

Afterword: An Excellent Last Vegas Adventure

There is no such thing as a "typical" trip to Vegas for a DD' team member. Because individual trips are short compared to the variance of the team's winning game, there are winning trips, losing trips, and trips that just break even. There are trips when "heat" is light or nonexistent, with few casinos using countermeasures to foil the team's play; and there are trips when, as DD' himself once put it, "I was getting kicked out of places all over town." There are trips when much time is spent taking advantage of tournaments or other promotions, and trips devoted purely to Blackjack play.

The one thing that holds true on any Vegas trip is that nice rooms, fine meals, and enjoyable shows are going to be provided free of charge by those hapless casinos which mistake the team members for high-rolling suckers.

E's day-to-day diary of one such trip, from September 10 to September 19, 1999, gives the flavor of what it's like to play with the DD' machine.

September 10:

A limo from Caesar's Palace picks us up at the airport and whisks us to our room. There are two of us on this trip, DD' and myself [the dauntless Peachfront]. The first day starts off with a bang, with large wins for both of us. We are comped to the elaborate Bacchanal dinner, which features well-endowed "wine goddesses," Roman hunks, and belly dancers. In addition to the gourmet food and free-flowing wine, we also receive free massages with our meal. It's truly a decadent Roman feast.

September 11:

Both of us continue to win big. We seem to be unstoppable, and I get a particularly big hit at Caesar's. The unsportsmanlike New Paris invites me not to play but DD' goes unnoticed. In the evening, we're invited guests at Caesar's "Garden of the Gods" pool party, where we are treated to a live jazz band and something even we've never had before -- "all you can eat" fresh steamed lobster!

September 12:

We move to our RFB comped room at Circus Circus, where DD' is welcomed with a gift basket. It's Sunday, and we make sure to get reservations for the well-regarded champagne brunch at the Circus Steakhouse. At this point we're surging toward a $30,000 profit and it looks like the poor casinos just don't have a hope against us. The rain that always seems to follow me to Vegas arrives, flooding streets outside the Mirage.

September 13:

I lose some ground, but DD' wins $11,000. Once again we feast at the incomparable Circus Circus Steakhouse.

September 14:

Now DD' is losing along with me. Even though we know this is a normal part of the game, it's definitely not the fun part. We make time to visit the unique shopping mall at the Venetian, where the picturesque pigeons which greeted R. and me on our previous visit seem to have been removed. We also enjoy a great Italian meal at Stivoli's in Circus Circus.

September 15:

More losing. We are definitely on the down side of the variance roller coaster now. Tonight's comp is at the Frontier Steakhouse, which is cozy and quiet if not in the front rank of Vegas eateries.

September 16:

The losing continues. Our big start is just about wiped out now, but we still enjoy another fine meal at the Circus Steakhouse and a gift basket offered by Harrah's.

September 17:

Finally I begin to gain again, but DD' continues churning. By this time the Venetian has caught on to DD's game and asked him not to play, which makes one back-off for each of us on this trip. Dinner is at Asia's in Harrah's, a remarkable bright pink Oriental restaurant which offers a wonderful savory lobster.

September 18:

What a day! I don't do much except churn the bankroll, but DD's has the single biggest winning hour of his life [to that date, he would go on to far surpass it in later years] at Caesar's -- $15,000 in an unstoppable juggernaut of high limit winning. Earlier in the day we're invited for the closed-circuit viewing of the De La Hoya/Trinidad fight. At first De La Hoya is way ahead and seems to be a shoo-in for the title, but then he seems to relax, perhaps becoming over-confident that he has a lock on the win with "points." Trinidad, however, comes back gamely despite a bloodied face and continues to battle, finally winning the decision. After the fight, with high rollers everywhere, DD' wins handily at Caesar's. He then strolls into Harrah's (where he's mysteriously fully comped even though he's not welcome to play) and enjoys a monster shoe in the party pit playing under an assumed name. The team is back on top.

September 19:

Our final day of play ends with a taste test of Harrah's Italian restaurant, Cafe Andreotti. It's enjoyable but perhaps not quite up to the level of Stivoli's. When the last comped meal is over, the chips cashed in, and the money counted, our combined play has netted about $27,000 for the team bankroll. It has been a roller coaster ride to the ultimate success DD' and his team members have learned to expect if they only play well and long enough.

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