Easter 2000 gave me enough time to take a trip around Lake Ontario. The weather was rainy and I wasn’t going to spend the entire weekend indoors either. So off I went on my way to Cornwall Ontario to cross the border and play Blackjack at the Akwesasne Casino in Hogansburg New York.
On the Cornwall side, my girl and I looked around for a place to stay that was inexpensive but still had class. We ended up sticking with the inexpensive and booked a room at the Murray Hill Motel. All told the room cost $35CAN. We turned the heat on, put our food in the fridge and got ready to cross the border.
There is a $2.25 toll to cross the bridge – $2.25US both ways. We told the border guard we were going to the casino, and we chatted about the rest of our trip to Turningstone and then Niagara. The casino is about 8 miles over the border. Nice to think in miles again. I even got to switch my car to miles and watch myself going so much slower than normal. 55 miles an hour? What’s that? If it saves lives, it’s worth it.
The casino is a one-storey building. There is a free coat check (tip the lady will ya?) and the place is quite clean since it is relatively new, about one year old. The Blackjack tables are all right at the front so I could do a sweep without looking like I was up to anything. I was surprised right away with the fact that you could play these tables with Canadian money. Some tables were set just for Canadian play, others for American play, and the rest of them either / or. It was easy to get a seat at the mixed tables, so I sat in after my sweep.
The first thing I noticed was a rather good shuffle. Always looking for a trackable one, I noticed right away that they were striping with each shuffle of the cards, which took away any Ace tracking possibilities. I have found that Slot Gacor dealer’s that use this shuffle tend to make a nice easy playing game that Basic Strategy works very well against, just like playing against the Shufflemaster. Win one, lose two, win two, lose one more, that type of game. Making your double-downs and doing well with splits. I bought in with US $ and began to play.
The count was relatively positive, not going much above +1TC (using Hi Opt II). This meant a few more smalls coming out than normal, but the player’s were doing well. I was too, playing second spot, hoping to get to first at one point. Using a simple negative progression ($5-$10-$25) I took advantage of this back-n-forth game. First came open and I put two $5 on it right away. “Do I have to play double the table minimum to play two squares?” I asked. “Nope. They did away with that a while back.” I found out that they had some kind of problem with the gaming commission and top staff got booted and things changed to get the players coming back in. Too much information, but nice to be able to keep my minimum bets low. I kept the $10 out on first and a $5 on second and slowly ate up a bunch of the houses red’s by betting up $5 on one, $5 on two, $10 on two, and during the right counts got $50 out on both.
I cashed out and went to check on my credit and it was approved. They checked with the other casino’s I play at and found me good. I back counted a table and jumped in with two $10US and asked for a $500CAN marker. Now I was on third with two girls to my right on first and second, no one else to my left. While I waited for the money I enjoyed listening to these two girls playing and watching me. I had a split and another and ended up having four hands on the go. “He’s American”, “Here’s a gambler”, humming over there hands waiting for me to call the play for them. I watched and said nothing so they couldn’t get pissed at me when things didn’t work out.
I got the chips, and the dealer mentioned something about me playing US too. I told him the table says you can play either and he said he knows, just wanted to make sure I knew too. The girls didn’t know what was going on at this point. Basically I was making my minimum bet about $5CAN (=$$3.35US), spreading as I went along and putting out two green US at times. I split 8,8 for less against a dealer 10 up with $25US out with a $5CAN bet. Later I split 7,7 vs a 5 up with $10US out and won both hands. It seemed I could do nothing wrong. I’m sure it was the type of shuffle they are using there. Each dealer was doing it, unlike other casinos where I have seen many different deals in action all at the same time.
I picked up bout $500CAN that night. I played Baccarat with Oskar’s Grind, jumping in after the player won always betting player. I won another $20US there, $30CAN. We ended up leaving to go back to our room a little after this and that ended the night – almost.
Our almost empty motel parking lot was getting close to full. Seems this is the cheapest spot in town, and the people from Cornwall were making Murray Hill into Blue Berry Hill. My baby and I had a good laugh at the sound effects going on around us and then added about an hours worth of our own noise and then went to bed.
We got up and did a little in-town shopping at Wal-Mart, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed back to the Akwesasne Casino. Again I hit them for another $200CAN before we left for Turningstone. My spread turned out to be 45:1 using the US chip and CAN chip bets. With spreading to two hands with $50US out I dropped my risk about 25% doing this. It worked out well with the cards coming when they were supposed to.
Upstate NY is a very nice area. When we think of NY we think of NYC, but it is nothing like that in the country. A dead deer followed shortly by a dead turkey graced the side of the road instead of the type of death you would normally see in the city. We finally found a Kentucky Fried Chicken and stopped for lunch. DAMN it was good! Far better than our Canadian KFC. Not as greasy and not as spicy, just right. The Col. would be proud.
Once we got to Verona I went to a motel to ask them where Turningstone was. Last time I was there I was on a bus full of “Bingo Babes” and came off I-90 to get there. I noticed they had a map with their motel info on it, and then asked the owner how much the room rate was. $45US was fine compared to the $150US at Tstone. The rooms are nice as well. It’s the Coachway Motel located at the intersection of 5 & 31. Tstone is 5 miles away. We turned the heat in the room on, had a shower and got ready for the casino.
I was aware that Turningstone had tossed its two-deck games a while back, but I was not impressed with seeing 8 deck games there. I had a little chat with the pit boss about this, and was told there are 6 decker’s on the left side of the casino at higher minimum’s. I walked around watching the players standing when they should, hitting when the should, and getting totally clobbered. There is no way I am going to join tables like these contrary to everything mathematical about this game. A few years ago I would wade into battle with these games fortunate enough to break even or hit my stop-loss. I have to thank Jerry Patterson for all of the information about table selection that he has provided me. It just doesn’t make sense to join a game where the chips are flowing into the dealer’s tray. I wasn’t going to bother risking my yesterday’s win at this place. I sat with my girl and played stud poker for the $32,xxx jackpot at $1.25 a hand. We left a little later to enjoy our new room. I lost a wopping $2.50 in all.
The next morning we got up and got ready to head for Casino Niagara. The owner told me to just leave the key in the room because their family was going to church. The family lives at the motel in their own home, a very nice set up. It’s nice to see people going to church were ever you go. I wished I could have gone with them on this Easter Sunday, but I had a lot of driving to do. I though about my church and getting back there the following Sunday.
We travelled along 5 all the way to Buffalo to miss the tolls on I-90. The traffic was light and the country was beautiful to look at. I saw a 1967 Dodge Charger for sale along the way and I thought back to days gone past. Two of my best buds had this car with 383 CI engines in them, one in green the other gold. We had fun in these cars. I though if I ever bought one I’d probably kill myself reliving the past. I think I was doing too much driving the way my mind was wandering all over the place.
Niagara was another 8 deck 2 cut out mess. Every table was full with $15 minimum’s. I just basically used these games to practice my counting, never being able to Wong-in when the price was right. I Oskar’d a Baccarat table for $25 just to get me on the register and then off we went to Mom’s for Easter Diner. Thank God I had the next day off to relax and rest.
All in all it was a good trip. Just finding a half-decent game where you can climb all over them was great. It’s a real SOB that Akwesasne Casino is over 5 hours away. Heck, Vegas is only 4 by plane. It won’t be long before I return to those 1 and 2 deck games to give’m hell again. From Akwesasne checking my credit, they have already sent me free room nights between Sunday and Thursday. Ain’t it great the way they keep track of you half way across the world? It won’t be as nice if they ever get the chance to bar me, but I’m pretty sure I can get away with a few more years before I become “someone else”.