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Table Games A letter I sent to Boyd executives about recent blackjack rule changes

Discussion in 'Table Games' started by Big Tip, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. Big Tip

    Big Tip VIP Whale

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    Please comment after you read the letter as if you too were addressing the executives I sent this too. Like Arlo Guthrie said, maybe we can start a movement!

    Bret Cox, Director of Casino Operations, Sam’s Town Shreveport
    Guido Metzger, Director of Casino Operations, Main Street Station
    Steve Thompson, Executive Vice President Operations, Las Vegas
    Ted Bogich, Executive Vice President Operations, America
    Keith E. Smith. President and CEO
    Boyd Gaming Corporation

    April 5, 2016

    Gentlemen:

    Corporations spend significant amounts on market research for information on what their customers are thinking. I am going to give you some for free!

    A group of us recently stayed at Sam’s Town in Shreveport. I had talked my group into going there because, “they have the best blackjack rules you can find these days.” We spent many hours at the blackjack tables there March 27, 28, and 29th. But we were shocked and dismayed sitting down the morning of March 30th to see that all remaining stand on soft 17 tables had been changed to the less favorable hit on soft 17.

    The Floor person informed me that rule changes were the decision of the Casino Director. I made the effort to talk with Bret Cox, the Casino Director, that same morning to express to him how I felt about the change. He was pleasant and receptive to my input. He said that the decision was made by his predecessor and that he was looking at everything. I wanted to send this email to him, and to everyone else addressed, as not only a follow up for Mr. Cox, but also as some helpful information for the others. Our conversation covered the following points.

    When rules change it matters to some people. I understand that businesses have to raise prices sometimes. But that business must realize that there will be a backlash to increased prices. There are other ways to increase revenue without alienating educated gamblers like myself that are offended by these rules changes. Why can’t at least one of the tables remain with, or change to, favorable rules? I am talking about the stand on 17 at Sam’s Town, as well as allowing doubling after splits at Boyd’s downtown Las Vegas properties? That way, the educated gambler can seek out, or “shop for,” a table in each casino, that is player friendly. With at least one good ruled table the educated gambler will feel that the casino “respects” him. Respect, as opposed to, just trying to take his money as quickly as possible. The casino will still have a majority of the tables with the less favorable rules earning at the higher hold, that the “ploppies” that don’t know or care about rule differences, will play. Does not the casino already use this selective strategy with slot machines with the “98.5% Pay Back!” signs? One machine has the 98.5% payback and the rest of the carousel has more casino friendly holds. The same method works with blackjack tables.

    I shared with Mr. Cox what I learned in my college marketing classes. A business should strive to differentiate their product from their competition. My group was willing to endure the less opulent surroundings offered by Sam’s Town than the other casinos in the area solely to take advantage of Sam’s Town’s more desirable gambling conditions. Part of our decision to come to Shreveport, instead of going to Las Vegas as usual, was based on the fact that a good game was available at Sam’s Town. Enduring a 5½ hour drive from Austin shows the allure of a good game! But with the rule change the game is the same as found everywhere. What factor is there now at Sam’s Town to compel us to play there? None, really. The same principle applies to the downtown Las Vegas properties in regards to the not allowing doubling after splits rule. This one is particularly baffling to me in regards to Boyd’s policies. Why would you offer a bad game in a market where we can simple walk out the door and find a better blackjack game 100 yards away, and yet offer a good game at the outlying “locale’s” properties, where a player has to make the effort to get in a car and drive to? I am referring to The Orleans and Suncoast where doubling after a split is allowed versus the downtown Boyd properties where it is not. I have explained to every Floor person within earshot at Main Street Station, where we have stayed over ten times now, that not only does the not allowing splits after doubles a more costly rule to the player, but it removes a very fun element of the game. We players like those “defining moment” hands where we can get multiple bets on the table. Splitting four times, getting four double opportunities, that’s fun stuff. But…not possible at Boyd’s downtown properties!

    The “serious” gambler, the one that has taken time to educate themselves on the games they play, is usually a more constant gambler also. “Constant” gambler means repeat customer. What business is not concerned with fostering a relationship with a repeat customer? Repeating customer usually means a gambler that plays at a higher level as well. Another baffling thing to the sudden Sam’s Town rules change was that it even occurred at the $25 table. Offering better gambling conditions at higher minimum tables works in the casino’s favor by forcing players seeking a good game to gamble at that higher level. For example I was playing at the “higher than I usually do” $1 video poker this trip because of the better payout schedule available at that level. Offering a good blackjack game at a higher minimum table will make players increase their average bet to be able to play at a good ruled table. And is it not better to hold 2% of a $25 bet than 4% of a $10 bet?

    So go ahead and “raise prices” for those that don’t look at price tags. But still have “bargains” for us shoppers. Remember too that we bargain shoppers often bring ploppies with us. So even if you break even on us, which of course you will do better than that, you will make more off of the less educated gamblers that come with us. And if we stay in your hotel for the fair casino rules we will spend money on non-gambling things. Also, even if you have just one table with good rules, we educated gamblers can brag on your casino offering a fair game to other gamblers. And in this internet era widespread bragging is easy. For example I am going to share this email with two Las Vegas discussion boards that I participate in. Vegas Experts http://vegasexperts.yuku.com/topic/14540/master/1/ and Vegas Message Board. http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/showthread.php?130438-A-letter-I-sent-to-Boyd-executives-about-recent-blackjack-rule-changes&p=1303462#post1303462

    Thank you for your time. I hope you will see the logic in my points. I look forward to seeking out a good ruled blackjack game in both downtown Las Vegas and Shreveport!

    Big Tip (I used my real name of course)
    Player #123456789

    P.S. All five of us lost money this trip at the “good ruled” blackjack tables. But we were okay with it and felt that we were given a fair chance at winning as opposed to leaving with a bad feeling about a “greedy” casino.
     
  2. DaiLun

    DaiLun R.C., L.C., and A.A.N.G.

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    Post retracted.
     
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  3. DrLect

    DrLect Low-Roller

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    A very logical and well-written letter, I hope Boyd execs give it some consideration. I believe Sam's Town in Las Vegas also has the no double after split rule as well. Even my wife, who loves to play $5 blackjack, and could from some respects, be considered a ploppy, prefers Sun Coast, Gold Coast and Orleans for their superior rules.
     
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  4. pphold

    pphold pp Park Place Degenerate

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    I did not know of the Change at Sam's town in Shreveport. I was just there and they had a $5 to $500 stand on soft 17 but the $25 to $2000 was hit?

    I asked if the Pit Manager could change the stand on Soft 17 to $100 to $2000 and he called and did it with a NO MID SHOE entry.

    The Margaritaville had the same thing hit soft 17 was $25 to $2000 but stand was all $5 to $500.

    I asked them to change the limit on the Stand soft 17 and they did.


    The Eldorado had the good rules at $50 to $2000 and $100 to $5000

    I have not been there in a few weeks so do not know about the March 30 changes in Shreveport.

    So all the tables at Sam's town is hit soft 17?


    I just did not want others to jump in and out of table is the reason I asked for the increased limits.

    Shreveport is or was one of the best places to gamble. 100X to 20x times odds on Craps. low limits with great Blackjack rules.
    Free drinks and good comps.

    No unlimited free hands on Baccarat and they won't kill a shoe. No airfare credits. are the down falls.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  5. BlacklabberMike

    BlacklabberMike VIP Whale

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    give 'em hell Carl. :clap:
     
  6. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nicely written and well-articulated, but I am pessimistic on it's effects. We aren't talking about 6:5 here. A bulk of the gambling public won't notice or care about the change. And as for the DT vs. offstrip argument. More people flock to Fremont St. Especially players that come without cars. If I ran Boyd, I would offer slightly crappier rules DT too.
     
  7. Timbuck

    Timbuck Tourist

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    I find it interesting that a lot of the news out of Las Vegas is that gambling revenue is down while shopping, entertainment and eating/drinking are on the rise.
    Is this because their non-gaming options are so good? Or because the gaming minimums and odds are so crappy.
    Are the margins on gaming revenue worse than non-gaming revenue? I would think gaming would have lower overhead costs.
     
  8. BlacklabberMike

    BlacklabberMike VIP Whale

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    not when they are selling a $20 bottle of vodka for $600
     
  9. h0und10

    h0und10 Low-Roller

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    I believe it is just the next generation is more interested in clubbing, and not so much the gambling.
     
  10. Aces and Eights

    Aces and Eights VIP Whale

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    I wonder if the management at those places got confused as to which limits should go with which rules.
     
  11. Aces and Eights

    Aces and Eights VIP Whale

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    If they want to have tables with crappy rules, they should do it altogether at a group of tables; hit soft 17, no double after split, double on 9, 10 , or eleven only, no surrender, no re-splitting of aces, 6:5 blackjack, continuous shuffle machine. And they should have a group of tables (there can be less of them) with all the good rules. I'm sure they'll get a lot of people at the tables with the "bad" rules. So many people don't know any better.

    Please post if you get a response back from them. Thanx!
     
  12. Geogran

    Geogran OTD Tea Sipper

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    Very nicely put Big Tip in terms even I can understand and appreciate - especially pointing out it would keep most players happy by maintaining a few tables with favorable rules and virtually no downside to their margin. (Not a table player, but a fellow Austin neighbor).

    Hope it gets positive results.
     
  13. Big Tip

    Big Tip VIP Whale

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    I was hoping for lots of supportive responses on this thread. I started this thread, then linked it in my email, before I sent it to them. The recipients of the email will most likely click on the link to read what people are saying about it. Here's your chance to easily say something to a casino exec.
     
  14. Pea

    Pea Low-Roller

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    Maybe it was a bit wordy.
    The bold parts are important; and I totally agree with the P.S. as it can apply to all games - and is what casino execs need to realize before they change rules to make more profit, which may not happen if gamblers go elsewhere.
     
  15. dragon7

    dragon7 Tourist

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    I thought it was very well written. I liked the analogy to the 99% slot machine. It seems reasonable to offer at least one table at higher minimums with better rules for the player. Besides, a $25+ player probably generates as much or more for a casino than a full table of $5 players.

    If you look at the casino's side though, it may be difficult to implement. They have hundreds of dealers that they move from game to game and it's a lot easier for them to train the dealers to the new rules without exceptions. The only exception I can see would be to offer different rules in the high limit room, where you have a more dedicated staff that doesn't get bounced around the casino nearly as much. I'm guessing these games are all on the main floor though?
     
  16. Big Tip

    Big Tip VIP Whale

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    I thought of that point. But the casino already has to deal with that as a dealer moves from a Super Fun 21 or Free Bet blackjack and the other variants that they usually offer in the same property, to the "regular" blackjack tables. And having different rules at different tables is not a new concept at all. I used to brag on the Monte Carlo as having the best blackjack rules on the Strip. Three of their tables had good rules, the rest of the house had worse rules.
     
  17. topcard

    topcard Older than the Stardust!

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    I make sure to comment about the "no DAS" every time I sit down at a downtown Boyd blackjack table. I often throw in the question about why Orleans & Gold Coast allow it, but they do not.
    Almost every time, I get on of two responses:
    1. If you want DAS, we do have it - at the "SuperFun 21" table. (To which I reply, "I was talking about blackjack, not carnival games.")
    2. Feel free to head on over to the Gold Coast or Orleans then.

    I have never heard a rational explanation for their policy...so, I'm forced to assume that they do it because they can get away with it.

    As for S17 vs H17?
    I've grown so accustomed to H17, I no longer even think in terms of S17 tables... the last S17 DD game I played (in Vegas) was either the Mirage or the Stardust in the late 90s.

    I did play the S17 DD game at the Horseshoe in Bossier recently.
    Sure - if it was available in Vegas - especially at the $10 level - I'd play it.

    I've made the same arguments here on VMB about casinos splitting up their tables - some with ploppy-rules and some for actual blackjack players... if I can find my old posts on that, I come back and include the links.
     
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  18. Rush

    Rush High-Roller

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    No doubt. You write about complaints as succinctly as possible.
     
  19. Loverboy

    Loverboy Low-Roller

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    Yes sometimes you don't get answers you agree on..
     
  20. USCHawks

    USCHawks High-Roller

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    I wouldn't be so sure about that.