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HOME > VEGAS > Vegas News > Deal Me In: Buon appetito! Or as they say in Polish, Smacznego!

Deal Me In: Buon appetito! Or as they say in Polish, Smacznego!

17 August 2012

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Do you have any buffet recommendations for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas? Do you have a favorite? Sandy D.

I do have a favorite to tout, Sandy, but it’s nowhere near Las Vegas. It is the Grand Luncheon Buffet at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It’s the ne plus ultra when it comes to combining food and ambiance, and coupled with forty winks on the hotel’s historic 660-foot front porch after overindulging -- well, if you can feast and siesta better elsewhere, write me about it.

As for Las Vegas, Sandy, because I have tempered my consumption of limitless chow, it’s been some time since I last visited a Vegas food trough, so a culinary disquisition of who’s got the best gastronomical gorge-fest would be dated. What I do know is that those el cheapo $3.49 prime rib buffets are long gone. Dinner prices are now pushing towards $50. Has inflation really risen that much? I will take the Vegas of yesteryear, any day.

A couple of my favorites have been Rio’s Carnival World Buffet and the Buffet Bellagio, but the wait last time at the Bellagio for their top-of-the-line cuisine was an hour and a half. You can lose five times the cost of your grub gambling while your significant other waits in line. Hold on, my wife just chimed in. She likes The Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan.

If you are going after September 10, give Caesars Palace a look. They have just revamped their buffet to the tune of $17 million dollars, and they are billing it as the Strip’s biggest buffet. Is over 500 items, with 80-90 percent of the food will be prepared at buffet stations in front of the customer, enough for you, Sandy?

As for affording a visit to the buffet, make sure you’re using a player’s card. Noteworthy play on your part should get you in the pig-out line. Regrettably, most players do not ask; consequently, a free feeding frenzy is not in their offing.

Dear Mark: In blackjack, does basic strategy still apply even after you get your first card? I am confused, especially when it comes to aces. My strategy card states that I hit an ace-7 (18) against the dealer’s 10, but if I have an ace-2, then get a five, do I still hit it? Phil P.

The setup in your question, Phil, a soft 18 consisting of more than two cards against a dealer 10, would not change your strategy. You should still hit it. Expect some heat from fellow players, even the dealer for hitting a multi-card soft 18, but they are in the wrong when it comes within this rule.

Moreover note, Phil, that all basic strategy charts affirm that if your hand contains an ace for a soft 18, the correct strategy for a soft 18 is to stand against a 2, 7, 8, double against a 3-6, and hit against a 9, 10 or ace.

Although the soft 18 looks all-powerful, looks can be deceiving. If you stand on a soft 18, no matter what the dealer's up card is, or how many cards you have, you will win approximately eight out of every 20 hands. However, if you hit until you reach a soft 19 or hard 17, you would win about nine out of every 20 hands.

Back to your soft 18, multiple-card scenario. There are exceptions to the rule. You would stick with a soft 18 if you have these four cards, ace-3-2-2 on a single-deck game. The reason being, four cards that could help you have been depleted from the deck, so in this case, I would recommend standing.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: The better the gambler, the worse the man. -- Publilius Syrus

Mark Pilarski
Mark  Pilarski
Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the gambling trenches, working for seven different casinos. He now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer, and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.

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